UPND Lusaka Province chairman Obvious Mwaliteta has observed that the PF government only respects chiefs during campaign time, but has no regard for traditional leaders when acquiring customary land.

Last week, House of Chiefs Spokesperson Chief Ngabwe told the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture, Land and Natural resources that politicians had been interfering in the administration of customary land. He also complained that the State sometimes takes customary land without consent from the traditional leaders and never used it for the intended purpose.

Commenting on the submission from the chiefs, Mwaliteta observed that there was no longer sanity in the administration of land under PF because government leaders had prioritised the interests of foreigners.

“We can confirm the complaints from the chiefs as UPND Lusaka Province because we are also victims of the State grabbing land from poor people. I will give you an example under Chieftains NKomeshya Mukamambo II, the State has moved to grab land from villagers opposite Mikango barracks, so the villagers have been displaced. When you go there, you will discover that most of the people who are owning land are civil servants together with politicians. This is also happening in Kafue where villagers have also been displaced by the politicians. This has just started happening now, I think two years ago just from the time President Lungu took over government,” Mwaliteta said.

“Land allocation procedure is not followed in PF, there is no sanity in land allocation because these small politicians think they are powerful because of the excessive powers given to them by their President to do anything. You will find that the minister of land is just giving out land without even the council knowing and this is bringing a lot of confusion. Therefore, we as UPND are demanding that we need sanity in the system and politicians should stop displacing people. People are the owners of the land, if the President is the custodian of the land then he is just doing that on behalf of the people so why should the poor people be displaced by the rich people? It is very sad indeed,” Mwaliteta said.

He noted that the PF government had invaded land which was protected under the Forestry Reserve Act.

“The state has moved to displaced people everywhere, when they just see that the people who are sitting on a certain type of land are not important they will just come and displace them like that. They have even degazetted forest reserves because they have this thirsty for land. They have built everywhere because they have a lot of money now and they don’t know where to take it, so they are now investing this money into estates.”

He said the PF changed the law on the governance of customary land without consulting the chiefs.

“Customary land belongs to the traditional leaders, it’s under the traditional leadership. But what is happening is that because the people in PF have powers to manipulate the law, they even changed the status of traditional land without traditional leaders knowing, all they would do is just change the number and the status of that land changes automatically. So there is no respect of the Chiefs anymore by this government when it comes to land administration. This government is not concerned about such things, so the House of Chiefs should stand strong and as UPND we are also going to support them because it is true we have seen that people are suffering in the hands of these politicians who are grabbing land wherever they see it. I am asking these politicians to not only respect Chiefs when its time for elections but they should respect Chiefs even when they want land,” said Mwaliteta.

“Zambian people are in trouble and this is where you see now that people are running out of patience and they are talking ill of this government, because this government has lost value. What pains me is that PF was founded on pro-poor policies but all of a sudden because of the MMD who have joined this party, the PF has suddenly changed because those people in MMD don’t believe in pro-poor policies. Today when you want land, you won’t call the council but you will call the Chinese because they are the ones who own land now, yet those Chinese don’t even bank their money here.”