Editor's Comment

Indiscriminate sale of land should be stopped

MANY countries, Zambia inclusive, are undertaking legislative and administrative reforms in an effort to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).
This is besides the aggressive marketing they are undertaking to showcase their countries as investment destinations of choice.

This is because of the need for FDI to inject capital to spur economic growth, and of course the associated benefits such as job creation and technology transfer.

Our conducive investment climate includes the availability of land.
Zambia has vast virgin land which needs to be exploited for the benefit of investors and local people.
However, there are foreign investors who totally disregard our laws by evicting locals from their land without resettling them in areas where they can be productive.
Zambian land laws do not allow any foreigner to own land.
What the foreigners do is to buy land through companies, which is legal in Zambia because a company incorporated in Zambia can buy land. But these foreigners at either corporate or individual level are seemingly amassing more land than they need.
That is why Bwana Mkubwa member of Parliament Jonas Chanda says the 1995 Act is weak.
Dr Chanda is genuinely concerned that any foreign national can arrive and straightaway own huge tracts of land.
He is shocked that in Twashuka and Chichele wards of Bwana Mkubwa constituency, some foreign entities that are mere shop owners have bought in excess of 60 hectares of land, evicting over 800 Zambian citizens who have lived there for years without compensation, even when some had genuine papers from the council.
The requirements for a company incorporated in Zambia to acquire land must have conditions, so that a certain percentage is reserved for local people.
The chiefs should also be controlled, as they are the main culprits in signing away huge tracts of land without taking into consideration the interests of their subjects.
Apart from greedy traditional leaders who want to get rich quickly by giving away land to anybody who flashes money, our local authorities and citizens, too, are guilty.
Our love for foreigners is unprecedented.
Somehow we have also lost our values, especially from the side of the lawmakers in cases where local residents can even be displaced when foreigners acquire land, without even consideration of how to provide alternative accommodation for the displaced local residents.
During his address to the nation on the progress made in the application of national values and principles delivered to the second meeting of the First Session of the 12th National Assembly on March 17 this year, President Lungu equally expressed concern at the illegal manner in which land is being sold to foreigners.
President Lungu said at the rate land is being sold to foreigners, there is veritable danger that we might render our children landless. The indiscriminate sale of land has an ultimate effect on our children who may end up as squatters in their own country.
He said it is saddening that land is sometimes sold so cheaply that the value at which it is being given out could be as low as cheap handouts.
He called for the revision of the Land Act and policy that guarantees sovereignty over our land, which is a key natural heritage.
The President directed the minister of Lands to take to Cabinet a revised Lands Act and Land Policy, which will ensure that our land is protected for our future generations.
He said the lack of patriotism with regard to land management shames the selfless spirit of our forefathers and mothers who fought and died so that we could be truly an independent and sovereign state.
It is indeed the duty of every citizen to honour their service to the nation by putting our country first by not selling land anyhow.

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