—Irate illegal settlers today stormed Cargill Chipata demanding to be given compensation for the land that has been earmarked for expansion by the company.
Chipata District Commissioner, Kalunga Zulu, and Chipata Mayor, Jealous Phiri, had a tough time to address the residents who seemed to be uncompromising.
The land in question belongs to Cargill Zambia but the residents have been carrying out some farming activities on the land and are reluctant to vacate the place.
The settlers were offered K1000 as consideration for losses they might have incurred after being told to vacate the land.
The illegal settlers are claiming that the money is not adequate for them to rent other pieces of land.
But Mr Zulu maintained that government will always protect investors against unfair treatment by Zambians.
Mr Zulu said the protest by the settlers is not genuine as Cargill has already made some part payments to people who had their fields disturbed by the expansion programme.
He noted that Cargill was offering the money on humanitarian ground as the residents are illegally cultivating on the land that belongs to the company.
He challenged the residents to provide title deeds to prove that the land in question belongs to them, adding that Cargill has correct documentation to that effect.
The DC advised the irate residents to find better ways of engaging Cargill if they feel the money which they were given was not enough.
Mr Zulu explained that the land issue of Cargill has the blessings of government as correct procedure was followed and all parts including the settlers were represented during the various meetings that were held.
He further expressed disappointment with the people who were protesting, adding that they signed to show that they agreed to the terms and conditions of the agreement and had even received some money.
And Cargill Projects Manager, Emmanuel Mbewe, who was at pains to explain to the residents, noted that what the company was paying them was money just for consideration and not compensation, adding that there was no way a company can be buying its own land.
Mr Mbewe said the company only tolerated the residents to do some farming activities because they had no project for the land by then, but now the company plans to put up a milling plant on the disputed land.
But the residents’ representative, Daniel Banda, expressed concern with the differences in the amounts of money being given out.
Mr Banda said some people with small pieces of land were given more money compared to those with bigger land.
He disclosed that the settlers, who had been farming on the land around Cargill, agreed to be paid about K15, 000 but were surprised with the company’s decision to pay others as low as K100.