Senior Chief Ngabwe of Central Province says there are a lot of problems involving land administration in Zambia because there is ignorance in the separation of powers regarding the administration of State and customary land.

And Senior Chief Ngabwe noted that government has been converting customary land into State land without signing the convention forms.

Chief Ngabwe told Prime TV, Monday evening that the country needed a land policy that would take care of all its citizens, including unborn children.

“Where have we gone in the administration of State land or the administration of customary land? Can someone point out clearly what are the lacuna in this area so that we first address those things together as Zambians. Once we do that, we should work out a document that is participatory, a document that takes care of all the needs of Zambian stakeholders in all the walks of life, the poor and the rich. We also want a document that preserves land for future generations, a document that represents that Zambian aspiration in terms of upbringing every Zambian to a certain economic level. The current policy by government does not look at these things because if you are going to allow every Jim and Jack to get land wherever they come from, I wonder whether you can go and get land on tittle in China or in England or in Russia or America as a Zambian,” Senior chief Ngabwe said.

“So why don’t we have a situation where these people can get land in partnership with Zambians for economic development of the country? We [are] prepared to give Zambians land to develop it in partnership with the investors. Because even in UK, you don’t get land, but you buy a house that is on government land. But here, you are giving 99-year leases and then you are converting customary land to State land, what does that mean? It means that you are depleting the percentage of the customary land you have. The customary land is where the poor majority Zambians stay. So, the convention procedures again have been questioned by us. What we are proposing is that we should come up with a customary land Act to administer customary land and it should be separated from State land. We made a number of suggestions actually in our written reaction page-by-page of the draft.”

And Senior Chief Ngabwe noted that government had been converting customary land into State land without signing the convention forms.

“We have a problem; there is no chief who gives tittle deeds in this country. The chief recommends to the council and then the council makes processes, which go to the Minister of Lands and they are ones who give tittle and if there is anything wrong in the way a chief has recommended, they can stop it. So, the question is, what is it that has gone wrong in the administration of customary land? Obviously, there may be more [than] one, two chiefs that may have given more hectarage, but still, that could have been stopped at the Ministry of Lands or at the council because you can’t get tittle if the council has not approved and recommended to the Ministry of Lands. Then there have been situations where customary land has been converted to title without even filling in convention in Form II, which is supposed to be signed by the chief, how does that happen? How can land be put on tittle when convention Form II has not been filled?,” senior chief Ngabwe wondered.

“What is this equitable distribution of land that customary people are not doing? I think as Zambians we just need to be honest and say, ‘let’s come up with a better way of managing land, both customary and State land’. At the moment, we have lost quite a chunk of customary land, it has become State land and some [of] it we don’t even know how it became State land. So, this is our fear and our main fear is what will the [future] generations come to find? We know of some places, like here in Lusaka, there is no land for the people who are not yet born, where will they be? They will be eternally displaced! And the only inheritance that you can leave for your unborn children is land.”

And Senior Chief Ngabwe said that the traditional leadership was prepared to sit down with government and come up with a land policy that represent the interests of all Zambians.

“We need a land policy that takes care of people not yet born, a land policy that takes care of ourselves, as Zambians who are alive now and takes care of the economic development of this country; a land policy that will not bring confusion; a land policy that will not bring strife. We are particularly interested that a procedure to do this must be a collaborative procedure. All stakeholders, all Zambians, are intelligent to participate in coming up with a land policy that will be suitable for us. This is not political land so it’s not political party issues; it’s for every Zambian. So here, you should take off your political affiliation and discuss something that is going to affect all of us. And government should be working with chiefs,” said Senior Chief Ngabwe.