Lusaka Mayor Miles Sampa has cautioned Lusaka Councillors against commenting on the Forest 27 developments in the media.
Mr Sampa said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources is the principle in terms of land allocation while Local Authorities are merely agents which perform delegated duties.
He said the fact that Ministry of Lands has appointed Local Authorities as agents does not take away the power of allocating land from them.
The Mayor was speaking during a Special Council Meeting held in the Council Chamber yesterday.
The Mayor’s comment comes in the work of a story in yesterday’s Daily Nation newspaper banner headlined “FOREST 27: WE KNOW NOTHING…LCC Councillors deny granting authorisation to developers.”
“Local Authorities are simply agents of the Ministry of Lands, which is why they revoke the agency when they discover that a particular Council is not following procedure in land allocation. Granting agency to Local Authorities does not mean giving away the power and responsibility of performing any of those duties,” he explained.
Mr Sampa observed that Forest 27 was legally de-gazetted by President Edgar Lungu and the Ministry of lands in their own rights and powers decided to allocate plots to deserving applicants on their waiting list.
He said it is none of Council’s business who the Ministry of Lands chose to distribute their land to.
“You cannot wake up and complain about who they give their land to, it’s their prerogative” he stressed.
Mr Sampa advised Councillors to always remember Council’s boundaries and stick to its lane.
However, Mr Sampa explained that despite the Ministry of Lands allocating plots in the de-gazetted Forest 27, the power to scrutinise building plans and granting of construction permits still remains with the Council.
In Monday’s Daily Nation newspaper, Lusaka Town Clerk, Alex Mwansa, confirmed that seven developers in forest 27 have been authorised to commence construction.
Mr Mwansa said the developers had met all requirements.
The Mayor reminded Councillors that the plans were approved by Council and that it is unfair for some Councillors to deny granting authorisation to developers.
“When reports are brought before us let us make sure that we read and scrutinise them so that we know what we are approving and take responsibility,” he advised.
And Speaker of the National Assembly yesterday directed Lands and natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata to issue a Ministerial statement of the developments in the Forest Reserve number 27.
The Speaker advised the Minister to also liaise with her counterparts from the Ministry of Local Government and Water Development.
This was after Mazabuka Member of Parliament Gary Nkombo rose on a point of Order seeking a ruling on whether the Ministers were in order to keep quiet on the developments in the Forest Reserve.