NANCY SIAME, Lusaka
PRESIDENT Lungu has directed newly appointed Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection permanent secretary Barnaby Mulenga to ensure that the implementation of the land policy is expedited to facilitate equitable distribution of land to majority Zambians and not just the elite.
The President said land should not just be for those that have money and are connected to people in higher offices.
He said this at State House yesterday when he swore in Mr Mulenga and Cabinet Office public policy specialist Stephen Chibesa.
â€œWe all want to participate in owning land. Right now the provision of land seems to be for the elite and those who are well connected,â€ Mr Lungu said.
The President said all citizens are entitled to equitable distribution of land.
He is concerned that some people have gone into full-time land brokers by acquiring huge chunks of land, which they sell to Zambians at exorbitant prices.
â€œZambians can buy land cheaply but they succumb to pressure and buy this land due to lack of straight-forward procedures,â€ Mr Lungu said.
He also urged traditional leaders and civil servants not to abuse their offices by acquiring huge tracts of land for personal benefits.
The President urged Mr Mulenga to work with the Commissioner of Lands and Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Christabel Ngimbu to ensure Zambians have access to land which is fairly priced and reasonably available.
â€œThis desire is for everybody and not just for the privileged few who are connected and happen to have lots of money,â€ he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Lungu has urged Mr Mulenga to focus on preservation and protection of natural resources.
â€œThe ministry that you are running is not just the ministry of lands, but natural resources and environmental protection as well. I want to see a lot of effort towards the protection and preservation of our natural resources,â€ President Lungu said.
He is worried at the high rate the mukula tree is being smuggled out of the country in its raw form.
â€œThe mukula tree is endangered because it has economic value.Â We need to give it value so that we can benefit,â€ he said.
Mr Lungu said he has been talking to investors who use mukula tree so that they can come and see how best the tree can be used for the benefit of everyone.
Mr Lungu said he will not allow the continued illegal logging and smuggling of mukula tree with impunity.
â€œThe value of this product belongs to Zambians and [I] will not allow depopulating the tree,â€ he said.
He warned Mr Mulenga that his loyalty should be to the people of Zambia and not to his pocket.
And speaking after the swearing-in ceremony, Mr Mulenga said he will follow policies to ensure forests are protected by reintroducing forest guards.
Mr Mulenga said the exploitation of the mukula tree must come to an end and he will ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.
â€œI will also push for the land policy to be finalised so that there is equitable access to land. Any piece of land made available will be equitably distributed,â€ he said.
He further said the sub-dividing of land will be dealt with once the policy is implemented.
And Mr Chibesa said he will ensure that policies are done for the benefit of the people.
NANCY SIAME, Lusaka