I have noted that leaders of what is left of African indigenous authorities have taken a stand against other steps towards the dispossession of Africans from THEIR lands, over which they hold sacred custodian responsibility. I think that this may be an opportune to reflect upon what the Founder General President of the Northern Rhodesia African Congress, Mbikusita Lewanika said to the Annual Congress Conference on July 21, 1951, 67 years ago:
“NO ALIENATION OF NATIVE LANDS TO INDIVIDUALS OR PRIVATE COMPANIES
While Native Reserves and Native Trust Lands are held firmly for the Africans, the Africans cannot be neglected and exploited by industrialists and Farmers as they might otherwise be.
From the trend of events in this country it is noticeable that THERE WILL BE GREAT PRESSURE BROUGHT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS ON THE GOVERNMENT TO MAKE NATIVE LANDS AVAILABLE FOR THE EXPANSION of agriculture and the production of food stuff and the Government may not be able to stand against this pressure by a … refusal to allow any Native lands to be developed. I BELIEVE IT WOULD BE UNWISE FOR CONGRESS TO STAND FIRM FOR SUCH A TOTAL PROHIBITION OF BUT I THINK THAT WE MUST INSIST THAT ON THE CONTROL OF THE LAND REMAINING IN THE HANDS OF A TRUSTEE THAT HAS AFRICAN INTERESTS AT HEART. I FEEL THAT IF LAND IS REQUIRED FOR SUCH DEVELOPMENT AS THE GWEMBE SUGAR PRODUCTION SCHEME, THE LAND REQUIRED SHOULD ONLY BE ALIENATED TO A BOARD OF TRUSTEES ON WHICH AFRICAN INTEREST PREDOMINATE. ANY PRIVATE COMMERCIAL FIRM WORKING FOR THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES WOULD WORK ONLY AS A MANAGING AGENCY. This would mean that more of the capital put up for developing the industry would have to be provided by the Government or by the Colonia Development Corporation.
ALIENATING OF NATIVE LANDS TO EUROPEANS SHOULD, I CONSIDER: BE RESTRICTED VERY STRONGLY. They will only want the best land and that with the best communications for getting their produce to the markets. GOOD AFRICAN LAND IN THE RESERVES AND TRUST LANDS CAN BE DEVELOPED BY CO-OPERATIVES AND AFRICAN MARKETING TO THE BENEFIT OF THE AFRICAN POPULATION. THE CAPITAL REQUIRED IS IN THE GOVERNMENT’S HANDS ACCUMULATED FOR MANY YEARS FROM INCOME TAX PAYMENTS WHICH SEE PROFITS MADE OUT OF CHEAP AFRICAN LABOUR. It may be necessary to bring in a number of European technicians and advisers to make co-operative farming projects a success, but these will be employees of Co-operatives and marketing unions. THE BASIC PRINCIPLE IS FOR US TO SAY “HELP US TO DEVELOP OUR LANDS AND DO NOT TAKE THEM AWAY FROM US TO EXPLOIT FOR PRIVATE PROFIT.”