File:A little boy stands besides the rumble of what was once his home.Over 100 homes were demolished in Lusaka’s Chinika industrial area following a court order that declared the houses to have been illegally built on land belonging to Mushe Milling Company

The Final Draft of the Land Policy, as published in December 2017, hasn’t addressed or provided enough unambiguous details on some of the fundamental areas of concern. Listed below are some of the concerns that I would like to be
considered for clarification before the Policy is finally assented to.

Comments on some clauses

Gender, Youths, Persons with disabilities, HIV/AIDS and other Cross Cutting Issues

1. CLAUSE 6.3.9 –MEASURES (V): Proposal to implement 50% land ownership for women. I feel that this provision needs further definition to describe the framework of its implementation. Without a detailed description it can be easily misunderstood or misinterpreted. Although at the moment there seems to be a need to encourage more women to own land, it seems the reasons that have caused few women to own land, haven’t been fully interrogated. The biggest hindrance that I have identified isn’t discrimination by the other gender but the failure by women to meet primary requirements, as set out by authorities, such as proof of ability to develop the land applied for by production of Bank
Statements during interviews. All Local Authorities have made it as a basic requirement for applicants for various categories of land to prove their ability to develop the land applied for. Further, the terms of payment of the premiums for those that pass the first hurdle are not favourable. Usually, successful applicants are requested to deposit the
whole amount within days. This disadvantages many. Less than 15% of Zambians are banked or have bank accounts. The requirement to produce Bank Statements is therefore unfair to the remainder 85% and women are worse off because very few make the banked bracket. Unless this requirement is wavered for some categories of land and its applicants, the proposal to implement the 50% threshold for women land ownership will be defeated. Besides, I think that this provision shouldn’t favour one gender as it will be deemed discriminatory and may require an amendment should women grossly overtake men.

2. CLAUSE 6.3.9 – MEASURES (XI): Lower contracture age for land acquisition from the current 21 to 18 years. Ordinarily, most Zambians are dependants at 18years and may not be in any gainful employment. Most may have just completed or are completing Grade 12. Even those living alone are classified as child-headed-households that need a
guardian or oversight by Social Welfare Officers. I wonder how these would desire to own land unless it were a special case. There is a need to further define circumstances that would trigger the need for this category to qualify to own land. Otherwise it will be a recipe for increased fraud as past records show that some people have tried to hide
their illegal acquisition of various tracts of land by distributing it among members of their family that include children who in many cases are not even aware of their ownership of such land. It is therefore important for the policy to clearly define the procedure and circumstances under which juveniles can qualify to own land so that fraudsters do not take advantage of this provision.

3. CLAUSE 7.3 – LOCAL AUTHORITIES (IV): Preparation of demand driven land use plans of villages and other rural settlements using available resources. The fact that the role of Chiefs and other traditional authorities hasn’t been clearly defined, this provision maybe considered as interfering in the powers of Chiefs to freely reign over
their chiefdoms. Some of the decisions made by Chiefs are in Council, which means in consultation with Indunas and are therefore representative of the people. This provision is a potential source of conflict between Chiefs and Local Authorities as it may be construed as interference in the operations of chiefdoms. The Institution of Chieftaincy has been in existence long before the missionaries brought religion and modern day civilization. They have always been there for the people. They have been managing land since time immemorial. They have endured many hardships with their subjects. Today there’s a spirited assault on the institution of Chiefs especially on the question of land. Even the colonial Government realized the important role that Chiefs play in the administration of land. For a example, as at Independence, 95% of land in Zambia was under the control of Chiefs but today that is not so. Since Independence successive Administrations have either cajoled or forcefully wrestled land from Chiefs and have only made it available to those with money or political influence. This is a very unfortunate development.

Other Observations

1. THE ROLE OF CHIEFS AND THE MODE OF ADMINISTRATION OF LAND ISSUED UNDER CUSTOMARY ARRANGEMENT – The Draft Land Policy doesn’t clearly state the role of Tradition Leaders and how they will participate in the alienation of land under their seal. Apart from just stating that documents pertaining to land issued by Chiefs shall be recognized as legal, the Draft Policy needs to go further and detail how this shall be done taking into account the following:

a. We have 4 levels of recognisable Traditional Authorities, that is, in sequence of seniority:

1. Paramount;
2. Senior;
3. Ordinary and;
4. Sub Chiefs.

The Policy must define in detail the level of recognition of documents of tenure issued under the seal of each level of chieftaincy. It may not be correct not to recognize the hierarchy or seniority of respective traditional leaders as it may be construed as taking away their authority. For a example, documents issued under the seal of the Paramount Chief cannot carry the same recognition as that issued by a junior Chief. This is important in order to allay disputes
between senior chiefs and their juniors.

b. The policy doesn’t address the benefits that shall accrue to Traditional Authorities from land leased on commercial or industrial purposes. Usually, all settlers in chiefdoms are considered as subjects of the Chief in the area of their settlement. From time to time subjects pay homage to the Chief and it’s usually done in kind. For some they cultivate the Chief’s fields, others give out from their harvests while others pay a small monetary levy and it’s according to one’s ability. There is currently no Law that compels corporate subjects to do the same despite their bringing of a horde of challenges to the Chiefdoms some of which are:

I. POLUTION – Due to the nature of their operations Corporate subjects cause noise, air, water and environmental pollutions that disturb the ecology of chiefdoms within which they settle. Traditional Authorities have difficulties in addressing these challenges because Corporate Subjects are not under any obligation to listen to the Chiefs. These grievances are referred to responsible Government agencies that are not within the areas and usually take
long to respond;

II. RESTRICTION OF ACCESS TO FACILITIES – This is usually a source of conflict, especially when footpaths, access to water and sometimes firewood and herbs are restricted because the area has been fenced off. Ordinary people’s lives are grossly affected whenever large scale commercial farmers fence off large tracts of land to deny them access to water, firewood, grazing land, and other resources that they use to sustain their lives. Those that dare to trespass are sometimes shot at or humiliated in a very de-humanizing manner.

III. INFLUX OF ALIENS – Industrial development attracts various offshoots. An influx of people whose behaviour may not conform to the traditions and practices of the locals is another challenge that brings with it conflicts that Chiefs have problems dealing with.

(2)THE ROLE OF ESTATE AGENTS – The Draft Land Policy doesn’t address the role of Estate Agents in the process of land alienation and administration. Estate Agents have been known to be notorious in the acquisition of large tracts of land for prospective purposes. But then they also play an important role as it is easy and convenient to buy and sell land through an agent. In order to avoid excesses or abuse, there is need to clearly define the role of Estate Agents. The thrust to shield the vulnerable that make up the majority of Zambians from the vagaries of the open market shouldn’t cloud out the important role that Estate Agents play as well. The acquisition of land by NAPSA, a State owned
Enterprise at an embarrassingly large premium in Kalulushi is one of the reasons for a clearly defined role of Estate Agents. NAPSA has had difficulties with the Kalulushi Housing Project because the value of the land affected the net worth of the properties.

(3) INSULATION AGAINST OFFSHORE TRANSFER OF LANDOWNERSHIP – There is need to address the procedure to transfer non-performing assets, especially of multi-national corporations such as bare land, residential properties, sports facilities and other social amenities like clinics and hospitals, etc. The Land Policy needs to insulate
land from offshore takeovers. In July 2011 Zambia was a laughing stalk when Equinox Minerals sold Lumwana Copper Mines to Barrick Gold at a record price of US$7.30BN. This was described, at the time, as the World’s largest single transaction. Unfortunately Zambia didn’t gain anything from this transaction because the sale was concluded in
Australia. Although the Barrick Gold Mining Licence covers around 1,355km² Equinox Minerals had a land title for 99 years covering around 35,000ha which was sold together with the mining operation. There’s still a conflict at Kalumbila were First Quantum bought mining rights from a local company that included large tracts of land in which villagers had
settled for many years. The Mzungu owners of the mine have not respected the local traditions such as treating burial sites with the reverence demanded by locals. It’s difficult to influence these mining companies on how they use the rest of the idle land because the Law doesn’t provide for such interventions. These are a few examples of why
the Land Policy shouldn’t be rushed.

(4)BURYING OF RELATIVES ON PRIVATE LAND – It has now become fashionable for families to bury their loved ones on private land, especially farms. This practise is alien to most Zambian customs and traditions. We have always had designated sites for burial and we always treat these sites with reverence. The implications of this practice is that the subject land remains locked. No one except some close relatives would desire to settle on land that shares another’s grave. When such land is earmarked for major development, developers have to first deal with the remains buried at the site. This scenario calls for a well defined policy on such practices to avert future challenges and possible conflict. The chances are that such graves might be mutilated considering the rate at which foreigners are buying off properties, some of whom may have cultural practices that don’t respect the dead.

Further, I wish to urge the Government to recognise that land is the basic capital that Zambians have for economic development. The Land Policy must therefore make it easy for citizens to acquire land. Zambia won’t develop through the wholesale offer of large tracts of prime land to foreigners in the name of Foreign Direct Investment. Common Zambians suffer displacements, evictions and demolition of their properties because of a flawed land administration system. If Zambians can’t be respected in their own country there’s nowhere in this world where they will be. Zambia is their motherland too; it isn’t just for those with money or those that are well-connected. The formulation of the Land Policy gives us an opportunity to address these injustices that Zambians continue to suffer. It is therefore incumbent upon the
Minister not to rush the process without wide and meaningful consultations. All known major stakeholders in the administration of land have thus far dissociated themselves from the process that produced the current document.
This shows that consultations were not done. Finally, I wish to urge all Zambians to take an interest in the formulation of this important document and bring forth their views. We only have One Zambia One Nation.

By Harrison Chewe Kalosa
Vice Chairman to the Board Movement for Economic Emancipation

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4 COMMENTS

  1. Mr Harrison Chewe why are you against people choosing to be buried on their farm land? Each tribe has its own customs so don’t generalise on custom and think that your ancestors customs from Congo are the same as someone’s whose ancestors come from Matebeleland. And don’t cheat yourself about people having respect for the dead even in these town cemeteries you will see them digging a burial site at the exact same site where another person was buried. As for me I would rather be buried at my own family farm and so too my children. On the issue of foreigners owning large tracts of land we should reciprocate to those countries that do not allow Zambians to own land in their countries same policy as with Visas.

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  2. Zambia fits to be among the lowest implementers of land policies in Africa. As citizens we don’t have the desciplin and as law makers and enforcers we don’t monitor or followup.

    It is sad to see settlements in urban Zambia looking as if land in Zambia has finished. Unplanned settlement with zero service deliveries are a disaster and we can’t have s cholera free Zambia though the president dreams so. Distribution or rather selling of land and later developing it is in too many hands including party cadres, a shame to our country. People build under high tension cables and ZESCO electrifies such houses. People build over water pipes, block drainage and deeds are given them. People build where there supposed to be schools, hospitals or even roads, no one is there to to stop them. I…

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  3. @CK. No my friend we do not have an vision or plan whatsoever. That is where most of our problems come from-lack of ‘comprehensive’ planning. Where there are plans, we have too many of them which do not fit together or speak to each other.
    Thanks Harrison for highlighting valid concerns. This land issue will put us in problems (if we are not in problems already!).

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