The reported land deal in Sinazongwe in which hundreds of local villagers could lose their ancestral land smacks of corruption.
Government must therefore investigate this land scam before the villagers are displaced.
According to the CEJ, a civil service organisation, a foreign-run mine in Sinazongwe will relocate the locals after buying land at K2 per square metre of 60, 000sq amounting to K120, 000.
From the outset, this deal is phony for there is no way one could buy land anywhere in the country so cheaply.
It is most likely the villagers have been duped. They need someone to intervene on their behalf before they lose out.
This development came to light when the CEJ held a meeting with the community of Mazyamuna in Sinazeze area of Sinazongwe.
CEJ Executive Director Maggie Mwape says her organisation appreciates the importance and role of investors in the economic development process of the country, but that this should not be at the expense of locals’ livelihoods.
Ms Mwape says the exploitation of the vulnerable indigenous people should not be entertained, 58 years after independence.
We agree with Ms Mwape that there is something wrong with this land purchase for it does not appear to involve the traditional leaders, or even the local council.
This could be the work of an individual or a group wanting to swindle the villagers out of their land.
It does not make sense that villagers would want to sell their land and become destitute.
We do not know how the whole deal started, especially who initiated the negotiations.
We would want to believe that if the mining company was genuine, it would have gone through the government rather than deal with individuals or whoever was purporting to represent them.
Ms Mwape has aptly advised that communities alone should not be quick to engage in land negotiations with investors without seeking guidance from government line ministries, traditional leaders and other stakeholders like civil society organisations operating in the area.
She disclosed that the CEJ has in the last five years implemented a project dubbed “Mining community voices and livelihoods preparedness” with support from the Bread for the World (BftW).
We are not surprised by the disclosure of community members that they proposed that the investor would buy land at K2, 000 per square metre but were forced to buy at K2 per square metre.
It would even be likely that even the size of the land they were willing to sell could have been changed along the way.
We do not think that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources which is striving to administer and manage land and natural resources in a transparent and sustainable manner would entertain this
Land plays a very important role in uplifting the socio-economic status of the country and any suspect land deals that tend to exploit the locals.
It should get to the bottom of this Sinazongwe scam without delay.