Mkushi District Commissioner (DC), Christopher Chibuye, has implored land prospectors from outside the district to desist from overlooking endorsement from the district administration when obtaining titled land in Mkushi.
Mr Chibuye made the appeal as he intervened in land related disputes in Chief Shaibila’s Kalubula area yesterday.
Mr Chubuye bemoaned what he termed a ‘widespread practice’ among land prospectors based in the big towns, saying they completed the procedures of buying as well as demarcating land without knowledge from the district administration.
He observed that land disputes were brewing in several parts of the district as result of prospectors who obtained land titles without the involvement of both district administration and the local authority.
Mr Chibuye cited land disputes in Kalubula area, explaining that residents who had lived there for many decades with the endorsement of Chief Shaibila were reportedly receiving eviction threats from some land prospectors.
He observed that such land prospectors were not resident in the district and obtained all their land related documentation outside the district.
The DC described the situation as awkward, but pointed out that the involvement of district authorities was the normal procedure for land acquisition.
Mr Chibuye stressed that his office was in solidarity with the settlers who were being threatened with eviction, adding that he had pledged to defend them from any form of harassment from land prospectors who behaved aggressively.
He commended the Kalubula residents for opting to involve district authorities in the matter, saying that land-related issues were potentially volatile and could result in people taking the law into their own hands.
He mentioned that he had directed all the relevant officials at the land related departments of Council and Agriculture to ensure that every land prospector gets clearance from the DC’s office.
Mr Chibuye also extended a directive to the residents of Kalubula to refer all land prospectors to obtain clearance from the DC’s office.
He defended these measures, saying residents of other areas, such as Chibwe-mkunga, were facing similar situations which threatened to provoke retaliation from the locals.
Meanwhile, Kalubula concerned residents Chairperson, Teddy Mweemba, disclosed that the disputed area had an expanse of about 4,200 hectares over a 35 km radius.
Mr Mweemba said that residents of this area had settled here many decades ago, and that their settlement had documented endorsement of the late Chief Shaibila.
He said residents had been threatened with eviction by people who came from outside Mkushi from time to time.
He mentioned that these land prospectors had been telling residents that they held titles for this land and that these people referred to this portion of land as state-facilitated Kaundula Farm Block and not customary land.
Mr Mweemba admitted that many Kalubula residents were confused by these developments as they believed that the land was customary owned.
He said many had hoped that the documented endorsement from Chief Shaibila would serve to protect them from harassment, adding that residents were now placing their hopes in government officials, such as the District Commissioner (DC).
He said that Kalubula was a settled community for many years had a sizeable population of981 small scale farms as well as primary and lower secondary schools.
Mr Mweemba maintained that residents would not bow to the threats from land prospectors as they believed that they had every right to stay in Kalubula.