SHORTAGE of land is inhibiting Government’s plans to expand Choma

Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba
Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba

THE SHORTAGE of land is inhibiting Government’s plans to expand Choma, which President Sata recently declared as the provincial headquarters for Southern Province.
Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Harry Kalaba said in an interview yesterday that Government is, however, negotiating with landowners for them to surrender some pieces of land to the State.
Only six percent of Zambia’s land mass belongs to the State, as 94 percent of it is customary land.
“We are in the process of negotiating to acquire some land from commercial farmers surrounding Choma so that the provincial capital is expanded,” Mr Kalaba said.
He said Chief Singani of Choma supports Government’s decision to negotiate with landowners to facilitate the expansion of the provincial capital.
Mr Kalaba said Government is in a hurry to develop all parts of the country and anything which retards such development will not be allowed.
He also said that one commercial farmer has agreed to give 400 hectares of his land to Government and that Batoka Farms will also offer some of its land this week.
Mr Kalaba said since President Sata declared Choma as the provincial capital, Government has been unable to expand the district due to shortage of land.
Choma district commissioner Bernadette Hamweemba also said Choma is in dire need of land for expansion.
Chief Singani commended Mr Kalaba for intervening in the matter.
The traditional leader said President Sata’s administration is hard-working and should be supported by all Zambians.
And Mr Kalaba says Government is determined to deliver development, especially to rural areas
Mr Kalaba said Government wants “equitable” development countrywide to ensure that citizens benefit from the country’s vast natural resources such as land.
He said this in Choma on Saturday after meeting officials from the Golden Valley Agricultural Development Trust (GART) development livestock centre, who are expected to surrender part of State land for the expansion of the town.
“The PF wants to ensure that all areas in Zambia develop and develop at the same pace. We are not going to leave out other areas in the peripheral. We want all of them to emancipate together, to develop Zambia as a whole,” Mr Kalaba said.
Mr Kalaba said Government will ensure that land that has been lying idle is “amicably” repossessed and developed for the benefit of the people.
Mr Kalaba is concerned that Choma is not developing at Government’s pace because most of the land is in private hands.
“Choma town is growing and Government has realised that there is so much land that is held in private hands and some of it is traditional land, so it’s difficult for the capital [Choma] to grow as the State would want it to.
“This is why Government has taken keen interest on land that has been lying idle, to see if we can dialogue with the owners of the land and where necessary to revoke the compulsory acquisition law just to pave way for the development that the State has put in place,” Mr Kalaba said.
He is happy that the GART livestock centre director David Mubita agreed to surrender part of the ranch to Choma Municipal Council for the expansion of the town.
“I am happy that the meeting we had with the director for GART, the council, as well as my officials, was positive. Sooner, rather than later, part of this land will be surrendered to the council to add to development of Choma so that it can be a city as envisaged by Government,” Mr Kalaba said.