Serenje MMD member of parliament Maxwell Kabanda has written to Serenje Town Council expressing anger on the council’s intention to displace villagers in Kasanka area to pave way for the creation of farm blocks.
And Kabanda says he will not allow people to be displaced until the correct procedure is followed, adding that land held under customary tenure can only be alienated if consent is obtained from traditional chiefs.
Meanwhile Kabanda has lamented that the council secretary has not been consulting him on many issues, as an MP for the area.
In a letter dated June 21, addressed to Serenje Council Secretary, Kabanda stated that the land in question was customary land which fell within the jurisdiction of the late senior Chief Muchinda.
He added that the said villagers had been in their respective villages for many years and therefore had interest in the pieces of land.
“I have received representations from villagers in Kasanka farm block that the council is contemplating to eject them from their ancestral land to pave way for the creation of farm blocks which were recently advertised at circa K5,000 per hectare. Council secretary, you are alive to the fact that the land in question is customary land which falls within the jurisdiction of senior Chief Muchinda (deceased) who had authority to allocate to the villagers. The said villagers have been in their respective villages for many years and therefore have interest in the pieces of land,” he stated.
Kabanda observed that the villagers had the right to be consulted before the council advertised their occupied land to the public.
“It follows therefore that before the council advertised their occupied land to the public the (villagers) reserved the right to be consulted in accordance with section three and four of the lands Act No.29 of 1995. Therefore your failure to consult the affected families negates the provisions of sections 3(4)c and is, therefore, fatal. Even the meeting which was held by the director of works, planning officer and DACO three weeks ago with the villagers way back after the council had alienated the said land and received consideration from potential applicants (developers) was an afterthought,” he stated.
Kabanda lamented that the council secretary had not been consulting him on many issues, as an MP for that area.
“Council Secretary, you are in court for displacing people in Ntenge area who are now destitute for loss of livelihood and again you want to start another legal battle. Please let us not make government unpopular for the sake of advancing our selfish motives. On many issues which I can’t categorise, even me as a the people’s representative has not been consulted, much to my distress. How then do you expect me to speak the same language with you if I’m left out in many pertinent issues affecting people in my constituency?” he questioned.
Kabanda questioned whether a social economic survey had been conducted, arguing that land held under customary tenure could only be alienated if consent was obtained from traditional chiefs.
He stated that he would not allow people to be displaced until the correct procedure was followed.
“For the record and as a matter of interest, I would like to find out from your office if a social economic survey was conducted and if so, may I please be availed with a copy of your Council’s Relocation Action Plan for the affected villagers outlining adequate compensation to the affected families. In a nutshell, land held under customary tenure can only be alienated if consent is obtained from traditional chiefs I.e senior chief Muchinda or from those whose interest maybe affected by such allocation. Failure to consult renders the allocation or grant to your would be applicants null and void. In conclusion, and for the same reasons, I will not allow people to be displaced until the correct procedure is followed or else I will regrettably, move to the courts to intervene in order to protect the rights of the poor settlers,” stated Kabanda.
“My office remains open for further consultation and awaits your response by way of a Relocation Action Plan. Note that the purpose of compulsory acquisition of land must be in public interest. The silence of the land Acquisition Act on the question of the purpose or purposes for which the state may compulsorily acquire property upon payment of compensation does not give the state a blanket right to compulsorily acquire property without any course or purpose. The land which was sold or indeed for which you received consideration was not council land or state land. You will in the meantime do well therefore, to refund the applicants until you follow the correct procedures after exhausting consultations with the people responsible.”