THE rate at which land is being acquired by foreigners in Zambia is worrying.
What is of great concern is the fact that this is happening at a time when Government is contemplating banning the foreigners from owning land. The government is also seeking to review existing long term leases on land and banning the sale of leased land without prior consultation with and approval by the government.
Also of great concern is the pace at which companies and individuals are advertising for sale to the public large tracks of land.
Like Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) executive director, Patrick Musole, rightly observed, the land sector seem to be plagued with so much chaos that one really wonders whether the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Local Government, are ever doing anything to regulate the situation.
Mr Musole said the government ministries are mandated by law to alienate land and repossess any land that remained undeveloped within the stipulated time, but none of these appears to be happening at the moment as individuals and private companies seem to have taken an upper hand in dealing with land issues.
“If repossession of any land occurs, such land must be re-advertised and reallocated by the ministries, and not individuals or private companies. But we wonder how so much land is finding its way into private hands,” he said.
We know Government has been making efforts to regulate access to land by both Zambians and non-Zambians through a new land policy unveiled by Lands Minister Jean Kapata, early last year.
But the question is, how much is Government doing to ensure the guidelines the new policy are fully implemented and take effect because at the rate the chaos is reigning in the land sector, it would be too late to control anything if there are more delays.
Some foreigners seem to have now engaged into high gear in their acquisition of land tracks across the nation, most of which they simply hoard for possible future resell at exorbitant prices.
What guidelines Zambia seeks to implement, they should first and foremost first promote equitable access to land to Zambians for both poor and the wealthy and irrespective of gender before taking into account the interest of the foreigners.
Infact, the new policy should restrict the period which non Zambians or investment projects can hold on to particular tracks of land to avoid them holding on to pieces of land forever.
Government should also implement strict measures on limitations and ceilings on the amount of land to be allocated for use by a single foreign investor.
In our view, stringent measures need to be taken to curb the proliferation of indiscriminate land disposal, as is the case around Lusaka currently, land hoarding and land speculation.
The chief’s roles in land administration, is another area that require clarification and regulation in order to avoid the current abuse of the land administration system as has been the case in some chiefdoms lately.
There is basically need for Government to seriously address the land administration issue, in order to clean it up, and rid it of the current rampant corruption, abuse, unfair and unjustified land allocations.