By CATHERINE NYIRENDA –
MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) have unanimously asked Government to repossess illegally acquired land in Zambia.
The MPs proposed in Parliament on Wednesday evening that Government should also curb the rampant corruption at the Ministry of Lands which they accused of awarding title deeds for huge chunks of land to foreigners.
This was after MMD Rufunsa MP Kenneth Chipungu moved a motion urging Government to repossess huge chunks of land that had been illegally acquired, especially customary land which is allocated to foreigners and other unscrupulous people.
“It is my appeal to look into the matter of irregularly acquiring land and consider repossessing of such land whenever this is desirable and cancel title deeds awarded to such people,” he said.
Mr Chipungu said it was disheartening that huge chunks of land in most parts of the country had ended up in the hands of foreigners who acquired it in the name of bringing investment to the country.
Supporting the motion MMD Mafinga MP Catherine Namugala accused chiefs of being the major culprits in the illegal allocation of land as they have entertained the idea of foreigners acquiring land in Zambia.
Ms Namugala said the motion was worth supporting as it was of national interest and that a legal framework should be put in place to ensure that investors are not using land for speculation.
“The Government should put in place an administrative system that would reduce the powers of the local authorities and the commissioner of land who decides when and how much land to give,” she said.
She said most investors had illegally acquired land under false pretences from traditional leaders while the Ministry of Lands was freely giving them title deeds.
She said land was the only endowment that the country could be passed on to the future generation.
Contributing to the motion, United Party for National Development (UPND) Bwengwa MP Highvie Hamududu said there was need to interrogate the policy on land administration and see how the House could improve legislation to support the envisage policy.
He attributed the illegal allocation of land in urban areas due to artificial shortage of land which had not been opened up ownership to Zambians.
“Young Zambians cannot be given a piece of land to build accommodation and they resort to getting it illegally especially that plots are expensive in urban areas,” Mr Hamududu said.
He said farms that were domicile in the city should be reallocated and create space room for people to build accommodation.
Vice-President Guy Scott said Government was having troubles with chiefs selling land to foreigners which is against the law and that the traditional leaders had no mandate.
Dr Scott said the Lands Act of 1995 was very defective and that Government was considering repealing it.
“The current Land Act does not allow the sale of customary land, the allocation of large trucks of customary land to a foreigner or foreign investor and the displacement of local people from customary land for any reason,” he said.
He said the Act, however, does not ban the acquisition of customary land by local council to allow for extension boundary, the conversion of customary land to lease of tenure by a Zambian occupying such land, among others.