IT is saddening tha some traditional leaders have decided to complain over the Government’s ban in as far as the selling of customary land is concerned and want to maintain the status quo, saying the Government should respect chiefs because customary land is vested in their hands.
Yet, customary land is an emotive issue and no one has a closer relationship to it than the chiefs themselves.
Admittedly, feeding the nation should be number one priority for every government so why are outsiders buying its customary land?
So are there opportunities for all sides if these customary land deals continue or do common Zambians have genuine cause for concern?
Despite details of the deals that do go through are often shrouded in mystery.
A lack of good governance in chiefdoms means that the majority of these deals are not transparent.
Whatever the truth, it is clear something is currently not working well.
Notwithstanding, the idea of vacant land being a myth.
All fertile land, forests, wetlands and grasslands are being used by local communities for fodder, grazing, medicine and wild foods.
Rural communities depend on these so-called vacant customary lands for a large percentage of their livelihood, especially when cash crops fail.
However, the future does not lie with small-scale farming anyway. Creating food security at a national level can only come through large-scale operations.
Large-scale deals involving foreign partners could work, bringing much-needed benefits.
But then the very conditions that have made these deals an attractive option in rural Zambia–weak governance, lack of capacity building and little or no accountability – means that rural populations need to be wary of being locked out of accessing these benefits.