Chiefs walkout on Kapata, protest land policy

Jean Kapata: File Picture

Angry traditional leaders yesterday walked out on Lands Minister Jean Kapata to express displeasure on the land policy which they feel disregards their role as chiefs.

This was during a stakeholders meeting held at Intercontinental Hotel in Lusaka where government was hoping to validate the land policy.

But House of Chiefs Chairperson Chief Ngabwe, who spoke on behalf of about five chiefs from each province who were present, warned that there would be chaos in government went ahead to implement the policy in its current form.

He charged that there were some civil servants who were sabotaging government by trying to cause of a change regime.

“What we are seeing, after analyzing this document is I think there are civil servants who are working against government and for the purpose of what? Changing the government?” Chief Ngabwe asked.

He lamented that government had disregarded their efforts to infuse their ideas in the draft policy.

“The document that is before us was looked at [in] 2006 by the House of Chiefs because some of the members of the House of Chiefs were there in 2003. The document was submitted to government on what the 288 chiefs felt about coming up with a better document to administer land in this country. Those documents are still in the ministry and I don’t think they looked at it. They didn’t look at the submissions that the chiefs made. 2016, we were invited, we picked the chiefs who were new members but then the gentleman who was presenting was given our views and in fact, to make it very clear, he was told that the chiefs do not accept the contents of the document, we rejected it and we were prepared to give our views as chiefs of this country. We invited the Ministry of Lands to the House of Chiefs for discussions, the first time they didn’t come, the second time they came and we had a very good meeting, we gave them our sentiments, we sent the document, under the signature of the clerk of the house to the ministry and we advised that after they had incorporated our ideas, they should come back to us to discuss the draft document before calling us to this meeting but that has not been done. The following are the views of the chiefs, both from the House of Chiefs and all the 288 chiefs in this country. I will read it, the ministry has a copy of this document,” he said.

“The chiefs objectives of the national land policy should be to protect the chieftaincy in Zambia, to uphold and preserve the customary land tenure in Zambia, we don’t want to copy anything from another country…to empower chiefs with the authority to issue customary land titles to provide legal protection to land owners of customary land like those under lease of tenure, to compel government to legally recognize the practices that teach youths to allocate and alienate parts of land to their subjects or all Africans and practices that they use to manage conflict.”

Chief Ngabwe wondered whether government was ready to manage chaos which would erupt by implementing the policy.

“The issue of segregation among men and women does not exist in chiefdoms. In chiefdoms, a husband and a wife can have their own piece of land and no one stop them but this has been exaggerated by NGOs and other people who don’t even live in the chiefdoms, they have never visited their own homes, they only know it on their NRC, to compel government to adopt prerogative procedures, we are prepared to work with government ourselves and when we call other stakeholders so that we administer the land properly in this country. But however, in the policy, there is no inclusion of a chief anywhere. Who is going to be in charge of the communities? Who is going to be in charge of this title deed which you have referred to? You have not even defined the procedures you are going to use. We want to preserve national peace. Any implementation of this particular document is going to bring chaos in this country, are you prepared to manage it? It is the chiefs that have kept peace in this country. This nation was born through the fight for land by the forefathers, people who have died. At the moment, all of us have children and grandchildren. If every piece of land in Zambia is given to particular individuals, where will they settle? You people in Lusaka, where are you going to find land if all the land in the chiefdoms is given away? We want equity, that is what the chiefs have been demanding,” said Chief Ngabwe before leading his colleagues out of the meeting without waiting for Kapata’s response.

Earlier, Chieftainess Nkomeshya Mukamambo II described the draft land policy as a government document which she did not want to be part and parcel of a process to validate it.

She asked government to take back their document and shelve it.

After the chiefs walked out, Kapata told remaining delegates from civil society organizations, government institutions among other stakeholders that her ministry had made efforts to consult chiefs.

“My ministry has made an effort in consulting the royal highnesses. We did appear before the House of Chiefs and we left the document with them so that they could put an input to it. To date, the ministry has never received those documents through the clerk of House of chiefs,” said Kapata.

         

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