The Auditor General says if the Ministry of Lands does not sufficiently regulate the system of land alienation, Zambia will have a shortage of land for future development.

In the Report of the Auditor General on Government’s Efforts to Ensure Access to Land in an Effective Manner, the Auditor General noted that the system of land alienation was not sufficiently regulated.

“The Ministry of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection has not been effective in managing the process of land alienation in Zambia. The system of land alienation is not sufficiently regulated by adequate policy, laws and regulations to meet the needs of various stakeholders in ensuring effective land alienation. Further, the administration circular does not have force of law and therefore does not compel the local authorities to adhere to the procedures stated therein,” the Auditor General stated.

“The current situation if not addressed could escalate into a situation where there will be no land available for future development in the country. Our water table will be eroded or contaminated making it expensive for government to provide basic needs such as clean water and sanitation for its citizens.”

The report further revealed that there were double allocations of plots in all councils but information on the extent of the problem was not provided.

“There were instances of double allocation of plots in all councils although information on the extent of the problem was not provided. In response, the Ministry and councils attributed this to, among other factors, poor record keeping and transfers of council offers. For example, Kafue district KAF/1104 and KAF/1750 which are on offer were recommended to other applicants by the council,” the Auditor General stated.

“The audit established that there was insufficient information on quantities of land held under customary and state tenure, resulting in conflicts and disputes. These included encroachments on National Protected areas like National Forests, National Parks and other Government properties by surrounding villages. For example, Chieftainess NkomeshyaVs Mikango Barracks/Ministry of Lands on F/3153, MpandeForest and others; Chieftainess Mungule vs Ministry of Lands on Chisamba forest( Kamaila area) and Chief Chiwala VsNdola City Council, where the chief is disputing the boundary with the city.”
However, he observed that the measures government had put in place to settle disputes and curb illegal land activities were centralised around Lusaka.”

The Auditor General stated that the measures put in place to resolve land disputes were not sufficient.

“The government has put in place measures to settle disputes and curb illegal land activities in the country such as the Land Tribunal and Lands Task Force, however, these efforts are centralised around Lusaka. The audit established that this measure has not been fully functional within Lusaka due to a number of challenges. It was usually not possible to circuit are members are part-time and had other duties to attend to, compounded by inadequate resources for travel and allowances for circuiting members,” stated the Auditor General.

Meanwhile, the Auditor General observed that the criteria of land allocation marginalized the poor.

“The criteria used in allocation of land was in conflict with the objective of equitable access to land by ordinary citizens. Only applicants that were able to provide a bank statement, pay slip of proof of residence are preferred in the allocation of land. This marginalizes the less privileged as they are unable to provide the formal requirements,” read the report.