OVER 500 former employees in the ministry of agriculture have been left destitutes following the private sale of a piece of land they have occupied as sitting tenants for over 20 years.
The involved individuals have since been evicted from a piece of land promised to them by their former employer, Zambia Agriculture Development Limited after the 1995 privatization programme.
This is contained in a Statement of Claim filed at the Lusaka High Court by Daniel Mushanga and 500 plus families who have sued the Attorney General for relocation to another piece of land after a court order to eject them from a place they have called their home since the 1990s.
Mr Mushanga on behalf of other residents complained that the over 2,000 acres of land was reportedly sold off without their knowledge as it was not advertised for them as interested parties to apply.
“The plaintiffs were informed by officials from the Ministry of Agriculture that the houses, ranch and its houses would be sold to them in a management buy-out which was a norm with other parastatals.
He said the plaintiffs and their families who number more than 500 were employees of Zambia Agriculture Development Limited stayed on the sprawling farm which measured in extend 2,000 acres until their employment with parastatal was terminated in 1995 when Government ceased its operations on the farm pending the parastatals privatization.
“Until 2013 when they were served with court documents caused to be issued out of the High Court of Zambia for which a company called Zambaell Farms Limited was claiming to have bought the property from the plaintiffs’ ex-employer Zambia Agriculture Development Limited at a sum of K330,000,” he said.
Mr Mushanga said a search conducted at the Ministry of Lands confirmed the purported sale of the property to a third party, without notice of the pending sale to them as sitting tenants.
He says they have since reported the matter to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Task Force on Illegal Land over the irregularities in the sale to a third party without adverts or notice to them as sitting tenants.
The farmers charge in their action that with title, the third party had legal access to the property they occupied, but that the only solution could be finding alternative vacant land to relocate them within Lusaka.
“Following inquiries and searches conducted by the plaintiffs at the office of the Commissioner of Lands, Office of the Surveyor General as well as a physical inspection carried out, the said plaintiffs have identified land in Palabana area of Lusaka upon which they could be relocated/settled in order to bring to conclusion this matter,” they have proposed.
They have since requested the court to order their relocation to the said vacant piece of land on farm number 1198 (F/1198) in Palabana, Chongwe area recently re-planned into small holdings by Commissioner of Land.