We hail Government’s decision to implement a national land policy to address numerous irregularities in land administration in the country.
We agree with the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata who has observed that due to lack of proper guideline on land administration, foreigners have continued to acquire huge portions of land.
It is sad to note that we are witnessing gross abuse of land administration since many people associate land misadministration with western colonisation which saw Europeans grab land away from the aboriginal people.
Colonial administration usually selected loftier land which they classified as ‘crown land’ for settlement and created Trust Lands under the then Northern Rhodesia Trust Lands Orders in Council 1947 to 1963 in an effort to decongest the reserve land.
These unjust laws saw many Africans being forcibly dispossessed of their land and moved to areas designated as ‘native reserves.’
At independence, the UNIP government effect the land act that empowered the state to administer land.
The MMD government also came up with the 1995 Lands Act vesting all land in the President for and on behalf of the Zambian people.
The act provides that land may be administered under two tenure systems: statutory and customary tenure. While statutory land is administered in accordance with written laws, by government officials, customary land is administered by traditional authorities based on unwritten and localised customary laws.
While customary land is more easily, available to many poor and vulnerable groups of society it is not well documented and boundaries between chiefdom and individual customary landholders are not clear.
However, we are witnessing anomalies in the allocation of both customary and statutory land since greed seems to be the guiding principle.
We only hope the much vuvuzelad –touted-land policy Mrs Kapata is talking about will address all the anomalies in land administration in the country.
The issue of land is a matter of constitutional significance, notwithstanding its vital importance and sensitivity to most Zambians.
Instead of land being lumped together with other categories of property, we pray the new land policy will give it special attention warranting its importance.
A central issue concerning land reform policy should be the extent and the manner in which it is administered.
Only then is the country going to address the widespread, fairly comprehensive misadministration of land policy that has been the main problem for decades.