YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
GOVERNMENT has revoked the approval for change of land use from agriculture to commercial granted to Novare Plexus Property Group, a South African investor that plans to construct a shopping mall next to St Maryâ€™s Secondary School in Lusakaâ€™s Woodlands suburb.
The 3.5 hectare land, which the South African investor wants to develop, belongs to the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB), formerly Zambia Episcopal Conference (ZEC), who have leased it.
In the early years of the establishment of Lusaka, part of the area around Kabulonga and Woodlands was designated as agriculture land.
But Minister of Local Government Vincent Mwale has revoked the approval for the change of use of the land as the developer allegedly provided false information on the location of the proposed shopping mall.
In a letter dated January 4, 2017 and addressed to Novare Plexus Property Group and copied to Lusaka City Council town clerk Alex Mwansa,Â Mr MwaleÂ said the revocation is also based on the fact that the title of the land in question has a special condition which does not permit it to be used for any other purposes other than religious and education.
â€œYour newspaper cutting shows that the property is located at the junction of Lincoln (Chindo) and Mutende Road in Kabulonga neighbourhood when in actual fact the said property is in Woodlands.
Although members of the public had missed the opportunity to raise their objections within the stipulated 28 days provided for in the law, their reasons advanced need consideration,â€ the letter reads in part.
Mr Mwale has since directed the developer not to go ahead with the proposed development until concerns raised by key stakeholders are resolved and it resubmits its application with factual information.
When contacted for a comment, ZCCB secretary general Cleophas Lungu said the matter is being handled by attorneys.
â€œThis matter is not open for public discussion as our lawyers have engaged the relevant authorities on the matter,â€ Fr Lungu said.
Meanwhile, there was tension and tempers flared at St Maryâ€™s Secondary School yesterday during a meeting convened by the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA) over the project.
Former students at the school, parents, and teachers, among others, spoke passionately as they opposed the construction of the shopping mall, which they stated would bring more harm than good to the surrounding area.
The members of the public, who feel there are enough shopping malls in the area, asked the developer to find alternative land for the project.
Officials from ZCCB and the developer were taken to task over the project and were at â€˜painsâ€™ to respond to concerns raised by the audience.
The schoolâ€™s Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) chairperson Stein Mkandawire said in 1954, when the Dominican Sisters of Zambia acquired the land from the Queen on a 99 years lease, it was on condition it be used solely for religious and education purposes.
But an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) consultant, Robby Kasubika, said remedial measures will be instituted to address concerns such as traffic congestion, noise pollution and waste management.
And the developer, John Causey, said the company will work closely with the school management to ensure the project does not affect the operations at the learning facility.
YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka