Editor's Comment

Stop illegal land allocation

THE call by Central Province Minister Sidney Mushanga to arrest and prosecute people allocating land illegally in Kabwe speaks for many other towns and cities in Zambia.

The problem of illegal land allocation has been a thorny issue in the country, and it seems there is no solution in sight.
Kabwe is just one of the many places that are grappling with illegal land allocations and Mr Mushanga is right in calling for the arrest and prosecution of the culprits.
Unscrupulous people have continued to distribute land illegally in many places, sometimes encroaching on other people’s properties genuinely obtained.
The sad part is that these allocations are in most cases perpetrated by known political cadres.
The cadres grab land with impunity and sell it to unsuspecting people who are desperate to have houses of their own.
There is no doubt that where there is illegal land allocation, most people cry of being swindled of their money.
These unscrupulous people in most cases collect money from more than one person per plot.
This results in conflicts over land ownership at which time the scammers would have run away without a trace.
What is more worrying is that the land scammers in Kabwe are selling land which belongs to Zambia Army in Kakumbi area. What cheek!
Obviously, this means that in such a situation one stands no chance of negotiating with the military to avoid demolition.
It is heart-breaking to see people losing huge sums of money spent on constructing their houses when the properties are demolished.
The minister is right to say that as long as individuals implicated in illegal land scams continue walking scotfree, illegal allocations of plots will not stop.
Therefore, law enforcement agencies should ensure that those who sell land illegally are arrested and prosecuted.
People should not be desperate for a plot to the extent of buying illegal land from unscrupulous people.
It should be noted that land can only be allocated by the Ministry of Lands and the Ministry of Local Government through local authorities.
The councils, which also harbour culprits, should ensure that their plans are followed by residents and that officers do not abet these illegal allocations of land.
While politicians are the main suspects in illegal land allocations, planners in local authorities should not feel intimidated but guide on how things should be done in
as far as land use is concerned.
Local authorities have been rendered weak because officers fear to be victimised by those with political power.
This problem cannot be fought by the councils alone, but residents should also help the local authorities combat this vice by following right procedures in acquiring land.
There is more to lose in acquiring illegal land than following procedure from relevant institutions given the mandate to handle land issues.
Residents should be suspicious of people who claim to be selling land because local authorities in most towns have run out of land.
It should be noted that if councils had land, they would not be asking chiefs to help them with land for cemeteries.
The councils cannot plan for social amenities because much of the land they owned has been grabbed illegally by cadres.
It is important, therefore, that the Ministry of Lands works together with police to identify culprits in illegal land allocations and bring them to book.


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