A SENIOR Government official in Central Province says traditional leaders have no authority to give land in forest reserves.
Central Province deputy permanent secretary Ronald Sinyangwe said it is an offence for any traditional leader to give land over which they have no jurisdiction.
Mr Sinyangwe said traditional leaders are not above the law and can be prosecuted if found to be breaking the law.
Mr Sinyangwe said this on Friday in Kabwe during the Central Province Development Coordinating Committee meeting after Kapiri Mposhi district commissioner Beatrice Sikazwe revealed that a named chief is allegedly giving land to people in Chibwe and Kabanga forest reserves.
“A chief can’t allocate land in the forests. Chiefs don’t have authority to give land in forests,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
Mr Sinyangwe noted that many forests in Central Province have been encroached when the areas should be free of any human activity.
He said forests are being encroached because the department of forestry is not doing its work and is not being forceful in removing squatters.
He said efforts should be made to remove squatters from forest reserves to avoid problems in future.
“If people [department of forestry] are enforcing the law there is no way that people can settle in forests. Somebody somewhere is not doing his job,” he said.
Ms Sikazwe said Chibwe and Kabanga forests have been invaded by illegal squatters.
“Some of the land is being given by the chief. Our chief is very much involved in land distribution,” Ms Sikazwe told the meeting.
Meanwhile, Mr Sinyangwe has implored Lukanga Water and Sewerage Company, department of forestry, Kabwe Municipal Council and department of resettlement to work together to find a lasting solution to illegal settlements in Kalulu Forest Reserve.
“This is a time bomb. The squatters should be removed from the forest,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
Mr Sinyangwe said there is no need to attribute the failure to remove the squatters from the forest to lack of political will.
“We should be solving this problem by month end of August,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
Central Province provincial land surveyor Winston Mumba said illegal settlement in Kalulu Forest Reserve has been a long outstanding problem.
“It will require political will to solve this problem because it has been outstanding for a long time,” Mr Mumba said.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the Ministry of Finance has implored the Kabwe Municipal Council to remove the people who have illegally constructed houses on land belonging to Kabwe Institute of Technology.
Ministry of Finance director of national planning Chola Chabala also said the law should visit the councillor who allegedly gave the people plots.
Zambia Daily Mail