Editor's Comment

We should jealously guard our land

IMMEDIATELY after Zambia gained independence in 1964, one of the greatest sons of the soil, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe, warned fellow countrymen saying: “We should jealously guard our land because if we lose it, God has stopped creating countries.”
Mr Kapwepwe’s sentiments are captured in Goodwin Bwalya Mwangilwa’s book titled ‘Kapwepwe Diaries.’
Though he may long be gone, Mr Kapwepwe’s sentiments still reflect the importance our forefathers attached to preserving our God-given natural resource – land.
It also shows the high level of patriotism and great understanding that our sovereignty is intrinsically linked to the control of our land resource.
It is, therefore, worrying that in the recent years we have witnessed indiscriminate sale of land to foreigners for a song.
This has alarmed President Lungu, who came out very strong on the matter during his state of the nation address to Parliament last Friday.
The head of State is concerned that at the rate land is being sold to foreigners, there is a veritable danger to render our children landless in the near future.
President Lungu observed that the indiscriminate sale of land has an ultimate effect on our children, who may be relegated to squatters in their own country.
Indeed we share the same concerns with our head of State. We are deeply saddened by the rate at which our valued resource is being unleashed into the hands of foreigners with impunity and in most cases at give-away prices.
The President, during his address, pointed out that a named chief gave out huge tracts of land in exchange for a second-hand motor vehicle.
This is indeed unacceptable and an act of unpatriotism, especially that it is perpetrated by a traditional leader who has been entrusted with administration of land on behalf of subjects.
By nature of their position in society, chiefs are expected to be above reproach and as such conduct themselves in a manner that preserves the honour of their offices.
As leaders who preside over subjects, chiefs are expected to put the interests of their chiefdoms before their own.
It is, however, saddening that the ‘animal in man’ seems to be rearing its ugly head into our traditional leaders, who are now seeing land as a lucrative business to fatten their pockets.
We support the call by President Lungu and House of Chiefs deputy chairperson Chief Ntambu to bring to an end this rot.
We are also aware that some political cadres and local authority officers are also as guilty. This is why President Lungu did not spare them during his address.
It is worrying that the people entrusted with custody of this important resource have resorted to satisfying their selfish desires at the expense of our sovereignty.
This is an insult to our forefathers, who sacrificed their lives for us to gain our independence and sovereignty.
If this rot is not stopped now, we will wake up one day to find that all the land is in the hands of foreigners relegating all of us, especially our future generations, to squalor.
Let it be known to all Zambians that no amount of money is worth our natural inheritance.
Those in whom the power to administer land has been vested should remember that the privilege also comes with the responsibility to preserve the natural resource for the future generations and so should not be careless in giving it all out.
However, it is unfortunate that the land legislation in the country is weak and, as it is, it favours foreigners with more money over the many poor Zambians.
We, therefore, urge the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to expeditiously execute the President’s directive to come up with a revised Land Act, and that guarantees sovereignty over our land, which is a key natural heritage.
The law must be stiffened to ensure that all those found sacrificing the sovereignty of this country on the altar of self-expediency are dealt with ruthlessly.
We commend President Lungu for reminding us that Zambian land belongs to Zambians and, therefore, should be preserved for them.

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