By CHILA NAMAIKO –
THE House of Chiefs has recommended that Parliament should enact a law that will deter foreigners from acquiring land in the country and those already in possession should give it back to the Government after the lease agreement expires.
All land in Zambia is vested in the President, who holds it in perpetuity for and on behalf of the people of Zambia.
House of Chiefs chairperson Chief Ngabwe has, meanwhile, asked the Government to bring back forests rangers to help in conserving forests, and that people cutting trees at random should be punished.
Chief Ngabwe told a Committee on Agriculture, Land and Natural Resources when he appeared at Parliament Buildings yesterday that foreigners should not be allowed to own land in the country.
He told the committee chaired by Patriotic Front (PF) Kaputa Member of Parliament (MP) Maxas Ngo’nga that at the rate the country was going, the future generations would not find land as it would have been sold to foreigners.
“Instead, foreigners and investors should partner with Zambians and traditional leaders that own land. For those foreigners that own land, it should be given back to the Government after the lease agreement expires,” Chief Ngabwe said.
The powers of the President to administer land are spelt out in various legislations, some of which are the Zambia (State Land and Reserves) Orders 1928 to 1964, the Zambia (Trust Land) Orders 1947 to 1964, the Zambia (Gwembe District) Orders, 1959 and 1964, and the Land (Conversion of Titles) Act No. 20 of 1975 as emended.
However, the President has delegated the day-to-day administration of land to the public officer for the time being holding the office or executing the duties of commissioner of Land.
Under Statutory Instrument No.7 of 1964 and Gazette Notice No. 1345 of 1945, the commissioner of Lands is empowered by the President to make grants or dispositions of land to any person subject to the special or general directions of the minister responsible for land matters.
Chief Ngabwe said the traditional leadership was equally appalled with huge land that some foreigners owned at the expense of the people of Zambia.
He cited the illegal access of traditional land, a situation where people in some parts of the country were displaced without a chief’s knowledge.
Chief Ngabwe said the majority of citizens were not well-informed on procedures to acquire customary land and, as such, they engaged headmen to acquire land, thereby making it difficult for chiefs to administer it.
In the case of forest rangers, Chief Ngabwe said the Government should bring them back to conserve forests, and people should ask for permission from a chief to cut trees.
As for those that cut trees irregularly, Chief Ngabwe said for every cut, people should be made to plant new ones.
Mr Ngo’nga said the committee would study the chief’s recommendations and submit to relevant authorities.