A headman of Shaputu village in Shibuyunji District has sued Chief Shakumbila, three headmen of his chiefdom and AVLOW Development Limited in the Lusaka High Court for fraudulently signing an MoU to surrender over 7,000 hectares of land to the State for purposes of establishing an agricultural development company.
Charles Shaputu, who is claiming for an order that that the said Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is null and void on account of fraud, says the purported conversion of 7,650 hectares of land is illegal because the law only allows a maximum of 250 hectares of land at a time.
In a statement of claim filed in the Lusaka High Court, October 11, Charles Shaputu stated that sometime between 2009 and 2017, Chief Shakumbila, headman Sitali, Mulowa and Shichumpa Lubanje falsified an MoU by fraudulent means.
He stated that the said MoU was purporting to say that the community where the headmen presided had signed to consent the handover of 7,650 hectares of land to the state for purposes of establishing an agricultural development company, when in fact the community had never signed such an MoU.
Shaputu stated that Chief Shakumbila was a shareholder in AVLOW Development Limited and, therefore, intended to collide with the three headmen, Sitali, Mulowa and Shichumpa Lubanje to fraudulently disperse people from the said traditional land.
“The defendants without consent from the community, prepared a list of villagers who purportedly consented to having signed to hand over the land to the State for purposes of converting it to State land when in fact almost all the villagers on the list have denied ever having signed the said documents. Others are illiterates who have never been to school, but their names and signatures appear on the said list,” read the statement of claim.
“The said application documents were purportedly issued to the Town Council for presentation before a full council for approval to Ministry of Lands to have the land title deed in the name of AVLOW Development; at the time, the said company had not been registered with PACRA and, therefore, was non-existent.”
And Shaputu stated that the purported conversion of 7,650 hectares was illegal in that the law only allowed a maximum of 250 hectares of land at a time.
He further stated that a recent search at Ministry of Lands had revealed that the Commissioner of Lands was in the process of issuing title in favour of AVLOW Development, which ultimately would lead to the community being dispersed from the land they had lived on from time immemorial and without their consent.
He now claims for an order that the said MoU intended to surrender the traditional land was null and void on account of fraud, as well as, an order that the intended processes of title in favour of AVLOW, was illegal, null, void and should be quashed.
Shaputu is further seeking for an order of injunction restraining the defendants from interfering or attempting to displace him, his villagers and other affected villages in Shakumbila chiefdom.