The Zambian government has proposed to ban the ownership of land by foreigners. The government is also seeking to review existing long term leases and the land in question cannot be disposed of, sold or exchanged without prior consultation with and approval by the government.
In its draft policy unveiled by Lands Minister Jean Kapata, the government hopes to regulate access to land by non-Zambians.
The state wants to restrict ownership of land, both state and customary to Zambians only.
If the policy is adopted, it will only provide for sub-leasing and or renting of land only by non Zambians.
This is the first comprehensive land policy framework since Zambia’s independence.
To date, land policy was in form of Ministerial Statements in Parliament, Presidential pronouncements and the Administrative Circular No 1, 1985 that has guided the system of land allocation and the Lands Act of 1995, the principle land legislation.
This national land policy primarily seeks to promote equitable access to land to all the people of Zambia on state and customary land, for both poor and the wealthy and irrespective of gender.
According to the draft policy, Zambia will replace all leases for 14 and 30 year term with 99 year renewable Leasehold Titles subject to meeting terms and conditions in the lease agreement and the relevant legislation for Zambian citizens only.
The policy will also provide for lease period for investment projects which shall be tied to the period of the licenses and concessions for the planned developments, but shall not exceed 25 years, and shall be renewable subject to terms and conditions set in the license, concession and lease agreement.
The draft policy also seeks to introduce and implement stringent change of land use conditions for both Zambian and non-Zambian owned companies to curb the proliferation of unfinished investment projects, land hoarding and land speculation as well as the indiscriminate disposal of land for profit.
It also seeks to introduce and implement limitations and ceilings on the amount of land allocated for use by a single foreign investor.
“We do not take kindly to this wholesome accusation. Why is no one pointing fingers at government who are at the centre of selling land legally and illegally?”
On the role of chiefs in land administration, the draft policy proposes to clarify and provide regulations and guidelines on the role of Chiefs in customary land administration and the powers of executive authority in allocation and registration of land rights of non-Zambians.
The draft policy notes that chiefs have authority to consent to allocation of land to individuals, families and investors for their use in line with integrated development plan and ensure equitable allocation of land between men and women in their operational areas.
On Wednesday, Chiefs under the House of Chiefs walked out of a draft policy validation meeting called the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources on Wednesday after they felt that the draft policy does not adequately cater for their interests.
House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Ngabwe who made a brief statement on behalf of five chiefs from each of the ten provinces stated that there is no chiefdom without land.
Senior Chief Nkomeshya Mukamambo II rejected the draft land policy saying there are 288 chiefs in Zambia and only a few of them were picked and cannot speak for all of them.
She described the draft policy as a government document and that she does not want to have anything to do with the process.
Senior Chief Nkomeshya Mukamambo II said government should take back the document and shelve it adding that Government has a lot of money and must call for a meeting for all chiefs.
KK, Chiluba, Levy, Banda and Sata did not have a land policy. Why bring documents which purport to protect the poor yet defending the rich. Do you want to bring conflict? We want a Zambian document and want a conference that will involves 288 chiefs in Zambia.
She said it is not right to discuss such a big document in a few hours suggesting that the validation process should have given three days at a minimum.
Chief Munukwa of Chipata said Chiefs were attending the meeting on behalf of their poor subjects who will be affected by the land policy.
He was also unhappy with accusations that Chiefs are selling land. “We do not take kindly to this wholesome accusation. Why is no one pointing fingers at government who are at the centre of selling land legally and illegally?”
Chief Ngabwe said the Chiefs would not be part of a ploy discriminating citizens.
“KK, Chiluba, Levy, Banda and Sata did not have a land policy. Why bring documents which purport to protect the poor yet defending the rich. Do you want to bring conflict? We want a Zambian document and want a conference that will involves 288 chiefs in Zambia. Do not want one which discriminates the poor like this PF policy which protects the rich. We reject the document. We do not want one to be part of this scheme. Why uplift a law from a country that is experience conflict and has abolished the Chiefs position,” said Chief Ngabwe.
Lands Minister Jean Kapata was shocked at the position taken by the Chiefs at the meeting but assured them that their role in land administration is well protected as they will be the ones to issue title deeds for customary land.
She called for objective comments and observations and that government expects the policy to go to cabinet for approval.
Ms. Kapata lamented that problems in the land sector are a result of the absence of a comprehensive land adding that government is committed to a comprehensive development of supportive legislation and regulations to operationalise the policy.