TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka
MEMBERS of Parliament (MPs) from both the ruling and opposition on Wednesday night unanimously supported and passed a private members bill giving powers to government to repossess huge chunks of land dubiously allocated to investors at the expense of Zambians.
Rufunsa MP Kennedy Chipungu (MMD), who moved the motion, said government should start repossessing land that has dubiously been allocated to investors so that Zambians can also benefit from their God given natural resource.
Mr Chipungu said government should be cautious enough on land matters and that it should not allow foreigners to possess more land than Zambians.
â€œGovernment should ensure that Zambians start benefiting from their God-given natural resource.
â€œWe are very concerned that our own people are not benefitting from this land and it is only the so-called investors who are benefiting from this land. This should come to an end,â€ he said.
And in winding up debate, Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Mwansa Kapeya warned that government will deal ruthlessly with anyone breaking the law in land allocation.
He said government will deal sternly with lawbreakers regardless of whether they are traditional leaders or a local authority as land is held by the President in trust on behalf of the people of Zambia
Mr Kapeya said it is sad that only a few foreigners own land throughout the country as similar names are found everywhere.
He said Government will start repossessing land acquired illegally and that no compensation will be given.
â€œMr Speaker, the Land Act CAP 184 of the Laws of Zambia does not authorise traditional leaders to sell land.
â€œTraditional leaders are only custodians who look after land on behalf of the President who holds it on behalf of the Zambians,â€ the minister said.
â€œTraditional leaders are only allowed to allocate up to 250 hectares free to indigenous Zambians. Therefore, should there be any traditional leader who has sold land either to an indigenous Zambian or investor, they have done that illegally,â€ Mr Kapeya said.
He said Government has commenced the land audit exercise to collect statistics on land use patterns across the country.
Mr Kapeya said through the land audit, Government will clean up the confusion by getting accurate records of who is on the ground and how they got that land.
He, however, said people who obtained land legally will be protected under the laws of Zambia, adding that Government can only acquire their land through the Land Acquisition Act CAP 189 of the Laws of Zambia.
He said in this case, Government will be required to compensate the owner of the land based on the market value of the land in question.
TEDDY KUYELA, Lusaka