Friday, 20 July 2007

Initial comments on the draft Land Policy...

Excerpt from draft:
"2.1.2 Colonial Origins of Land Administration
2.1.3 Colonisation involved taking away of land from the indigenous people by Europeans for their settlement and use. This altered the humankind land relationships furthering the evolution of individual property rights to land within customary tenure as a means to participate in the product, capital and labour markets.
2.1.4 Colonial administration selected superior land for European settlement (Northern Rhodesia (Crown and Native Lands) Order in Council 1928 - 1963). Later the colonial administration created Trust Lands under the then Northern Rhodesia Trust Lands Orders in Council 1947 to 1963 in an effort to decongest the reserve land. Many Africans were forcibly dispossessed of their land and moved to areas designated as native reserves. Production and marketing infrastructure were established on crown land where Europeans were settled and native reserves were neglected. Exclusion from markets effectively devalued African produce in preference for production of labour (subsistence) as before rather than as producers of surplus products for the emerging colonial market. The persistence of subsistence production is for that reason tied to the policy of land reservation, which concentrated development on land under statutory tenure, ignoring customary areas. Native Reserves and Trust lands were located far from markets, in places badly served by communications and transport and often infertile or infested with tsetse flies and lacking in water. This is the way in which Zambia’s colonial legacy created the conditions for persistence of subsistence production and poverty in rural areas of Zambia today. "

It is disappointing to find evidence of such poor scholarship on so important a document - particularly for the customary land of Zambia. The bias against Europeans is shocking. There is no mention of the successive colonialist waves of non-Europeans making inroads and displacing aboriginal peoples, no mention of the militancy of the the Ngoni and the Makololo and their impacts on the tenure of existing populations. When the BSA Co set up shop at the end of the 19th century and built the railway there were perhaps 300,000 people living in present day Zambia. European settlers therefore settled along the line of rail, or at Fort Jameson and Abercorn. Whom may I ask did they displace? And the war waged between the Ngoni and the Northern Charterland Exploration Company was between two sets of colonists! And with the advent of Imperial rule in 1924, a number of land commissions established 38, 866 sq miles of reserves with about 100 acres per head in which European colonists were barred. These commissions agonized over black rights (and many of these people were not indigenous to Zambia anyhow), being hated by white settlers for doing so.

Ian Manning

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