Land alienation needs reviewing

Wylbur Simuusa
Wylbur Simuusa

AS Zambia’s economy continues recording robust growth, demand for land for various construction and farming projects has continued to increase.
This has seen an increase in the emergence of many estate agents selling plots on behalf of landowners.
Unfortunately, whilst the public has been using some of these estate agents to acquire land, there is another bad crop of estate agents who thrive on conning unsuspecting clients.
There are hundreds of people who have been conned out of their hard-earned thousands of Kwacha and today some of these people still do not have plots despite paying for them.
The sad part is that some council officials and councillors have joined the fray and sometimes are in the forefront of swindling people.
Acquiring land has become a tricky business because of too many bogus estate agents and other unscrupulous people prying on unsuspecting potential land buyers.
Yesterday President Sata told chiefs from all parts of the country that there is need to develop legislation, which will improve land administration and enhance security of tenure.
We welcome this call by the President because land administration in Zambia has remained a serious challenge for a long time.
Government has since asked the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and the Zambia Law Development Commission to review legislation governing land alienation.
This is a timely decision because it will go a long way in ending the incessant land wrangles throughout the country, which can sometimes derail development or delay projects.
We know that countrywide, there are land wrangles between some chiefs, between individuals and land wrangles between businesses and authorities.
As President Sata has said, it is doubtless that land plays a critical role in socio-economic development and for the country to derive maximum benefits from land, the resource must be effectively and efficiently administered.
But instead of this being the case, there are numerous wrangles in chiefdoms that are retarding development as time and money is wasted to resolve these squabbles.
With the influx of investors and other foreign nationals and locals seeking land to settle there is urgent need to ensure that there is discipline in the manner land is administered.
It is only a few weeks ago that two people were shot because of disagreements over land and therefore we need to avoid such incidents so that land allocation is above board and done transparently.
We would like to see a situation where, when land is allocated, no other people should turn around and claim the same land because if land alienation is done correctly and transparently, such situations will be avoided.
It is such squabbles over land which have caused the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection to consider carrying out a land audit.
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Wylbur Simuusa says people owning land should accept the results of the land audit and be ready for the action, which will follow.
Mr Simuusa said on Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation’s Open Line programme on Sunday that the computerised land audit system will be commissioned next week and will be followed by a land audit exercise.
There is urgent need to ensure that there is sanity in the manner of allocating land to avoid the continued wrangling over it.
We are hoping that once the Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection and the Zambia Law Development Commission finalises reviewing the laws on land alienation, there will be more sanity in land allocation to avoid a situation where even cadres become vendors of dubiously acquired land.