Governing Political Party officials have continued to grab land illegally denying ordinary people access to affordable land and housing which is affecting integrated planning to meet present and future needs for land, housing and infrastructure in Zambia.
Zambia like many other countries has committed to the Habitat III agenda on urbanization and Development but with the current trend, 20 years from now the commitment may not be attained should planning authorities allow governing party officials to take the role of planning cities.
The Zambia has two tenures of land systems being customary and state, according to the land audit conducted in 1974, 6% of land was under state while 94% still under customary, and that is land administered by traditional leasers.
Zambia has three land deliveries systems which is Customary, Public institutions (Local Authorities, Ministry of Lands, and Ministry of Agriculture) and private formal systems.
Governing political party officials must allow professionals to plan for better cities
Access to land has become a commodity in Zambia making it inaccessible to the vulnerable.
Elected Civic Leaders have several times been caught up in illegal land allocations especially those coming from the governing political parties.
Some of those interacted with reveal why they engage in illegal land activities that have led to an increase in informal settlements in the country.
“We are elected officers but our work is more of volunteerism because we are not entitled to salary, we are not entitled to gratuity even after serving for five years, but how do we survive? We only get allowances of $70 USD in a month where do you take such an amount? One of the civic leaders asked.
“Our supporters are not empowered and giving them land is the only way of empowering them, and such is deemed illegal. Our work is not appreciated and this forces some of us to engage in such activities because not everyone among us has a permanent job”
In January, 2016 The Ministry of Local Government suspended three major Councils in Zambia to pave way for investigations in illegal land allocations.
The suspended Councils were Ndola City Council, Livingstone City Council and Kitwe City Council.
And Land Activist Archie Mulunda is worried that Zambia’s Developmental Agenda is under threat due to poor land administration in the country.
He said Zambia has seen an increase in the number of informal settlements that have come as a result of poor planning from the local authorities and giving room to governing party official to allocate themselves pieces of land.
“Governing political party officials must allow professionals to plan for better cities, remember Zambia has agreed in the Habitat III agenda and among other things is to make cities better places to live in, so nations are looking at Zambia, but what will this country report after participating in Quito Eduardo were they agreed to urbanization and Development” Mr. Mulunda said.
He has challenged governments to take responsibility and correct the current situation if the nation is to attain the agreed commitments.
“He said Zambia is experiencing serious problems in land delivery channels and this has resulted in the over 1.3 million shortages of habitable houses, 80 percent of Zambia’s settlements are informal that have no proper services despite them being prime land”
Meanwhile, local Government Minister Vincent Mwale said it is unfortunate to note that the country has experienced a lot of illegal developments which is as result of poor enforcement of the existing laws.
He said it was sad that people masquerading as governing party officials have engaged in illegal allocations of plots even on planned land and those tasked with the responsibility are often intimidated when confronted by the law breakers.
“The Ministry will ensure that no one will use their political influence to distort well developed plans in the name of being a supporter of this or that political party. It is unfortunate to note that the country has experienced a lot of illegal land developments as a result of poor enforcement of existing law” Mr. Mwale said.