By JAMES KUNDA –
PRESIDENT Edgar Lungu has assured chiefs countrywide that the proposed national land policy will not come into effect unless it upholds their aspirations.
Mr Lungu said the proposed land policy, which he only came to know about on Wednesday and is not yet before Cabinet, could not be approved without a thorough consultative process.
The proposed land policy will limit the powers of chiefs on customary land allocation with the major concern of the traditional leaders being increased cases of illegal land allocation.
“I saw this proposed national policy on land yesterday (Wednesday) but let me assure you that it is not yet in effect and has not even been brought to the attention of Cabinet.
“It is just a proposal by the ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, but it must be interrogated and if we are not satisfied with its provisions, we will discard it,” he said.
The Head of State was speaking at State House in Lusaka yesterday when he met with 15 Lamba traditional leaders from the Copperbelt Province.
Justice Minister Ngosa Simbyakula, Chiefs and Traditional Affairs Minister Joseph Katema, their Copperbelt counterpart Mwenya Musenge and State House officials were present during the meeting.
Mr Lungu said he was aware that the Zambia Land Alliance was among civil society organisations championing the new policy on the premise that it had worked well in other countries on the continent.
He, however, said Zambia would not adopt any laws on the basis of comparison with other countries.
The President asked Dr Simbyakula to issue a statement on the matter after he noted that the amended Constitution would give chiefs a say on matters of land in their regions.
Dr Simbyakula reassured the traditional leaders that the Patriotic Front (PF) Government was a listening administration which would ensure that every implemented policy upheld the interests of Zambians.
He was also happy that there were minimal cases of succession wrangles in the Lambaland, and urged the traditional leaders to continue upholding peace in their chiefdoms.
He said development projects would be rolled out to all the chiefdoms so that people could benefit regardless of their status.
“We have incorporated the Zambia National Service (ZNS) to open up roads and although all this cannot be done overnight due to resource constraints, it shall be achieved,” Mr Lungu said.
He directed Mr Musenge to ensure that the ZNS units in the province executed the works in good time for the areas to attract development.
Senior Chief Chiwala, who spoke on behalf of the traditional leaders, assured the Head of State of continued support towards the Government’s development agenda.
After the meeting, President Lungu had lunch with the chiefs.
Apart from Senior Chief Chiwala, other traditional leaders in attendance were senior chiefs Mushili and Ndubeni, who sent a representative, and chieftainesses Shimukunami and Malembeka.
Other chiefs were Nkambo, Kalunkumya, Lesa, Machiya, Mwinuna, Nkana, Lumpuma, Mukutuma, Shibuchinga and Fungulwe.