Land scams

Wed, 26 Oct 2016 10:56:36 +0000

IT IS certainly not in doubt that land administration in this country has been a thorny issue for years. The problems surrounding land alienation are deep rooted, the main problem being the lack of coordination between the Ministry of Lands and the local authorities on how to administer land. In many instances, the Ministry of Lands and local authorities have administered land simultaneously, hence creating loopholes with regards to prudent land management.

To make matters worse, lack of information on land acquisition procedures from either the Ministry of Lands or the councils in their respective localities has left the majority of Zambians desperate and amenable to manipulation by political elements. Inadvertently, knowledge of the availability of land under the custody of the local authorities has been a preserve of a few individuals as a result, political cadres have taken it upon themselves to demarcate and sell land illegally to unsuspecting citizens.

This has created more confusion with regard to land administration particularly in peri-urban and urban areas of our country. Under the current circumstances, it is not surprising that unscrupulous people have taken advantage of the existing loopholes to illegally grab and displace rightful owners from their land. This lawlessness must not be allowed to continue in that there are adequate laws in this country on how land should be legally administered by following the laid down procedures. We think that there is need for the Ministry of Lands and local authorities across Zambia to coordinate and work together in this regard to curb the rampant illegal land allocations going on perpetrated by political cadres and unscrupulous individuals.

Intimations by Lands Minister Jean Kapata that her ministry, in liaison with the Ministry of Home Affairs, will in the next few weeks embark on massive demolition of illegally constructed structures, need support. However, a clean-up exercise of this nature requires strong political will to bring sanity in the way land must be equitably and fairly alienated to deserving citizens.

How ready is the Ministry of Lands working in conjunction with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the local authorities to undertake this mammoth task? Has a thorough and transparent land audit been conducted to ascertain the information? It is highly probable that many of our people who will fall victim to the planned demolition exercise will point an accusing finger at some Government officials or political cadres to have sold  them the piece of land they built on.

If some of them acquired land through corrupt means it is anticipated that they will still corrupt the same officials to cover up their illegality. We equally caution the Ministry of Lands to thoroughly verify the information to avoid demolishing houses of innocent individuals. Undertaking a thorough and transparent land audit would be the ideal thing to do to mitigate chances of causing suffering to law abiding citizens who may have acquired the land legally and sacrificed their hard-earned money to construct those structures.

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