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NO LAND GRABS

THE lawlessness with which Patriotic Front cadres went about grabbing land indiscriminately is one of the major issues that led to its removal from office in the August 12 tripartite elections.

PF cadres were notorious for invading even privately-owned farms and demarcating the land, sharing it amongst themselves and selling the plots to the general public.

But thankfully, that appears to be history as the new dawn administration has warned that it would not subscribe to such illegal deeds from its members.

It is important that UPND cadres are told from the outset that they should not behave like their friends did under the PF regime. 

Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Elijah Muchimawarned UPND cadres and councillors against allocating land to themselves.

Mr Muchima sounded the warning in Choma on Monday when he paid a courtesy call on Southern Province Permanent Secretary Dr Namani Moonze.

It is important that the UPND leadership advises its cadres from the outset that they do not have any legal powers to grab land from anyone even though their party is in government.

Cadres have a misconception that when their party is in government, that gives them the right to enjoy the “spoils of war.”

The nation witnessed how cadres during the PF regime raided farms in Lusaka West which were on title and forcibly started “re-distributing” the land to ensure that it was shared equally.

But all this was just a guise by criminal elements to sell plots to unsuspecting members of the public and pocket the money.

The shady land dealings were not only confined to cadres but even some councillors were implicated in dubious activities.

There was for example a land audit done in Kitwe and Lusaka which implicated some councillors in shady land deals that was carried out under a probe.

In Kitwe, the land scam was so rampant that not even the State Lodge was spared from encroachment.

Although some names were reported to the police for action, the matter appears to have died a natural death.

We agree with Mr Muchima that anyone found grabbing and selling off land should be reported to police and advised that councillors should only have access to land through their established committees. 

Becoming a councillor or holding any political office should not be regarded as a passport to acquire land through dubious means.

That is not serving the public.

Those who seek public office must do so on the understanding that they are offering themselves to serve the people and not because of the privileges that might go with having power to decide over national resources.

We also welcome the minister’s statement that Government is targeting to issue out 4, 000 000 titles in the land title national programme.

This will go a long way in ensuring that people are assured of tenure of their land and that no one can just come from the blue and remove them.

The country needs to return to normalcy where there is respect for law and order, specially respect for privately-owned land.

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