LANDS and Natural Resources Minister Jean Kapata says government currently has no control over Zambians selling their land to foreigners because the Land Act allows citizens to do so.
And Kapata says government is waiting for advice from its lawyers on whether or not to repossess the 4,000 hectares of land, which was given to Indians, who later decided to sell it to the Chinese.
Speaking when she featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Kapata said government had no control over Zambians selling their land to foreigners.
“You know, the Land Act that we have now does not have provisions where a non-Zambian cannot buy. If you have a property and today you decide to sell it to a non-Zambian, we can’t stop you from doing that. It’s your property, you can sell it because we don’t know why you are selling your piece of land, it could be for your own economic survival. So, we have no control over individual people selling land to anybody out there. But when we bring in a policy, foreigners will not be able to get land because they can only get land when they are coming in as investors. And once an investment fails, then land reverts back to the State. But we cannot stop people from selling their land,” Kapata said.
Kapata recalled that some Indian investors were given 4,000 hectares to invest in during the Central Province Investment Expo, but they decided to sell it to the Chinese.
“Yes, they were given 6,000 hectares and when it came to our Ministry, we realized the 2,000 was actually the wetland. And the policy does not allow anybody to own land in the wetlands because wetlands are supposed to be shared. Those are eco-system where we want to preserve the ecosystem that we have in this country and also these are areas where animals graze. So, that 4,000 hectares was given to some Indians, who had attended the [investment] Expo in Central Province. They were given those portions of land so that they could then begin to invest into it. But what we saw was that, that land immediately was given to those Indians, it was also sold to some Chinese. And we are still investigating. I have a report on my table and I am only waiting for advice from lawyers to look at it, critically. What is the way forward? Because a lot of people have been displaced in that area, people received a lot of money without giving the owners of the land anything. So, I am on it and I will make sure that the correct thing is done,” Kapata disclosed.
She also said government was almost done with the validation process of the new land policy.
“These are Indians who claim they are Zambians, but that is not allowed. For me, that is why I have been crying that the land policy is put on the table because all these things that we are talking about, there will be guidance from the land policy. And the good news is that the policy is already done. The stakeholders have already agreed to the chiefs, we have sat with them several times and they have agreed. So, we are now at validation-level. And we are only delayed to do the validations now because of COVID-19,” Kapata said.
She said that investors should first sell their investment plan to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) before asking for land from chiefs.
“Investors are not supposed to go through to the chiefs for their investment. They are supposed to go through ZDA. Let them bring up what type of investment they are coming to do, and then with the recommendation from ZDA, then they can go to the chiefs and ask for land. And if the land that they are looking for is more than 1,000 (hectares), His Excellency also has to sign because he has to buy into the Investment that is coming. Is it a viable investment or not? We don’t want a situation where today an investor buys land, tomorrow they sell it to the Chinese, for those we have the powers to reverse, so that we protect people’s gardens, homes, and farms in the rural areas,” she said.
Asked about what happened with some of her Ministry employees who were accused of tampering with records, Kapata said most of them had been transferred as punishment.
“Of course, there was such a complaint and we have since transferred most of those officers. It’s a punishment. For those that were found wanting, some of them are appearing in court for such activities,” Kapata replied.
And she announced that the Ministry of Lands had procured a machine, which could print 150 land titles per minute.
“We are doing a national land titling programme and we are calling out Zambians out there to come and start processing their title deeds. I will be quick to mention that we already have equipment that can produce about 150 titles per minute,” said Kapata.