Veteran politician Mbita Chitala says the “foolish conduct by government” of selling land to foreign investors must come to an end.

In a statement today, Chitala who is MMD founder and businessman, said foreigners who currently own land in Zambia must be compelled by law to surrender their titles to the government and be given appropriate rental leases.

“This issue of our governments since 1991 of being complicit in auctioning our land to foreigners must be stopped. In 1995, the MMD enacted the Lands Act 1995 which left room for foreigners to hold title to our land. This unpardonable commission has resulted in many foreigners acquiring land at the expense of Zambians; large tracks of land in Zambia are now owned by foreigners,” Chitala observed.

“It is my submission that this foolish conduct by our governments must come to an end. Many Zambian patriots are arguing that the provisions in our laws that allow for this reactionary conduct must be immediately repealed. Those foreigners who currently own land in our country must be compelled by law to surrender their titles to the government and be given appropriate rental leases. This is what happens in all civilised countries.”

He said Zambia needed to learn from the pioneers of independence.

“Let us learn from the nationalism of the pioneers of our independent and stop the auction of our land for pieces of silver to foreigners. Our government should also make it a criminal offence for any foreigner to own land in Zambia and to criminally prosecute any Zambian that facilitate the ownership of land in Zambia to any foreigner,” Chitala suggested.

“It is crooked Zambians that have facilitated the ownership of all land to foreigners on Kafue road etc and our governments are complicit in facilitating this robbery of our land.”

Chitala went ahead to explain the history of land reforms that have led to the current situation in Zambia.

Before the colonisation of Zambia, Africans owned all land. The British signed fake agreements which robbed Africans of their land. The last concession was in1909 which gave all land and mineral rights to a private company, that BSA Company. In the Kombe case 1926, a British court ruled [that] all the land in Northern Rhodesia and Barotseland was owned by the British crown,” Chitala recalled.

“In 1924, the British took over the administration of Zambia and promulgated some pseudo law to protect Africans from removal from assigned land. In 1928, the British established reserves for Africans and crown lands for European settlement – some apartheid and racism. In 1947, the British promulgated a law to allow Africans to hold land in native trust lands only. In 1959, they enacted a law to remove the African people in Gwembe area arising from the construction of the Kariba dam and in 1964, they promulgated the Barotseland Agreement to create the new nation of Zambia.”

He recalled that after independence in 1964, all land in Zambia was vested in the State President.

“From 1968, the progressive UNIP administration enacted the Land Acquisition Act which allowed the new Zambian state to acquire land from absentee landlords and addressed the dangers of foolish commercialisation of land. In 1975, the government enacted the Land. (Conversion of titles) Act which among others, abolished freehold tenure,” recalled Chitala.

“In 1985, the government again correctly enacted an amendment to the Land (Conversion of titles) Act which disqualified non-Zambians from acquiring land in our country. This however was abused by the retention of a provide that allowed the President to alien land to any foreigner.”