Chibombo council land deal raises dust

Central Province Permanent Secretary Edwidge Mutale
CHIBOMBO District Council has allegedly issued 1,000 hectares of land to four foreign investors disregarding laid down procedure.

The investors had initially applied for 4,000 hectares, which could have meant each of them receiving 1, 000 hectares, but the council went ahead to parcel out 250 hectares per investor.
Central Province Permanent Secretary Edwidge Mutale has since ordered a probe into the matter.
Ms Mutale said it was unacceptable for the council to give out such a huge piece of land to the four developers whose nationality and the type of development they intended to venture in was unclear.
This came to light when Ms Mutale, who is on a familiarisation tour of the province, paid a courtesy call on Chieftainess Mungule at her palace in Chibombo on Wednesday.
Chieftainess Mungule complained to Ms Mutale over an alleged move by Chief Liteta to encroach on her land and the sale of land without her consent.
She feared that if the developers were allowed to continue with their programmes, many families were likely to be displaced.
The chieftainess said it was sad that land was being sold to people whose identity was not clear.
Ms Mutale ordered that if there was any development which had commenced, it should stop immediately until investigations were concluded.
Ms Mutale said she would not allow lawlessness in the allocation of land, and appealed to the ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs to consider educating its subjects on matters of land.
“We need to establish the truth. What if the so-called four investors is just one person using other people as fronts, we need to investigate the matter as soon as possible,” she said.
Efforts to get a comment from Chibombo District Council secretary Josephine Phiri proved futile as she was reported to be out of her office, while her mobile phone went unanswered.
The permanent secretary said her office was not against development in the area, but the manner in which land was being allocated at the expense of the local people was worrisome.
She also expressed sadness at the increasing land disputes in the province, and cited Kapiri Mposhi, Itezhi-tezhi, Mumbwa and Serenje districts where she said boundary wrangles had gone up.
Chief Liteta refuted reports that he was selling land to foreigners, saying he was only using the powers vested in him as a traditional leader.
He said all the decisions he made were in the best interest of his subjects.

Times of Zambia