A LAND wrangle has erupted area in Namwala district after opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) leader Hakainde Hichilema allegedly acquired about 1,500 hectares of land belonging to the community in Chief Mukobela’s area.
The fertile land in question which was said to be five kilometers in width and six kilometers in length was being used for cattle grazing by residents of Ngabo area within the district.
The move by Chief Mukobela, who however, said he only gave out the same land and not sold it to Mr Hichilema, has angered about 40 families to be displaced and the families have called for Government to intervene.
Acting District Commissioner Martin Sikainga confirmed the development and availed minutes to the media at the weekend pertaining to meetings held to discuss the land saga.
He said the land was allegedly sold to Mr Hichilema by headman Moola of Ngabo area, a situation which had deprived about 40 families of ploughing fields and grazing land for cattle.
“When I came into office as acting DC, I found a report of a case of land allegedly sold to Mr Hichilema and we have minute’s pertaining to complaints from the affected local community,” he said.
He said, one of the affected villagers who lodged the complaint on the acquisition of land by Mr Hichilema, was headman Moola’s son, who feared that the locals would be displaced.
He said when the land saga was reported to the district administration, a team comprising security personnel visited the area and observed that, in accordance with the chief’s authority, a traditional leader could only give out about 250 hectares of land.
“According to the law, a chief can only give out 250 hectares of land, when we investigated, its about 1,500 hectares of land Mr Hichilema has allegedly acquired and because of its vastness, its only the Head of State who is supposed to give it out,” he said.
He said, since the land given to Mr Hichilema was beyond the jurisdiction of the district administration, the matter was referred to provincial administration and was awaiting response.
He said the district administration could not summon Mr Hichilema because it was now a matter which should be handled by the provincial administration due to the vastness of land in question.
After visiting the land in question, Mr Sikainga said the team issued a directive that no infrastructural should be constructed until the matter was resolved.
At the time the team went to check on the land a few months ago, only a dipping tank was found being constructed.
But in his submission, according to minutes of a meeting held on July 29, 2014, attended by former DC Gavia Nsanzya, headman Moola stated that he gave Mr Hichilema the land because the opposition leader allegedly promised to sink boreholes, build a clinic and a school in the area.
He submitted that Chief Mukobela also consented it but when the team from the district visited the traditional leader, the chief refuted claims of selling the land and only give it out.
One of the complainants, Godfrey Lucheya stated that the land acquired by Mr Hichilema was not even in headman Moola’s area and wondered how the headman could allegedly give it out.
The complaints have since appealed to Government to intervene in the matter before they are deprived of the land belonging to the community.
Mr Hichilema and headman were unreachable for comments by press time.