Friday, 20 July 2007

More comments on the draft Land Policy...

Dear James,

You are right in saying that land and the rights of the poor are inextricably interlinked. In much of customary land, leasehold tenure should not be allowed as it inevitably disenfranchises the poor. However, many chiefs have conspired to do this for some salaula, a chigaya and a soon to be rusticated gari moto. The Lands Act is particularly responsible for this. However, District Councils and the Ministry of Lands have allowed it to happen. We even have chiefs selling off parts of National Forests - which once were customary land, with the approval of corrupt elements within government.

The way forward is to allow the land to be leased by investors, both foreign and local, under usufruct, registered with the Commissioner of Lands, with income paid into community trust funds as per the Landsafe Investment model. Land held by villagers, properly allocated by headmen and not necessarily chiefs, should be registered in a land registry book at the local level – their boundaries recorded simply by a GPS, allowing villagers to gain credit through having increased security of tenure. And the natural resources which the land supports should also be placed under the protection and custodianship of these local trusts, suitably empowered and directed by a community landuse plan, one which has nothing to do with irrelevant national planning and the centralized control so beloved of donors and government alike, and everything to do with the full participation and direction by local communities of their own affairs and the land which should bless and not alienate them.

Inevitably, chiefs are being called to account by their communities on land alienations as democratization spreads and the power of witchcraft wanes. The creation of associations, trusts and other community based organizations will ensure this, as will the recovery of past powers held by the people. However, the rights of the poor are under threat from stealthy statutory instruments, the regulations required to support poorly written Acts or to give powers to government departments which should not rightfully be theirs. An example of this is the regulations on Game Management Areas drawn up by ZAWA, in which are draconian punishments for villagers who do not report fires and so on are in place. Such regulations become law by a simple process of a draft being approved by the Ministry of Justice and being signed into law by the appropriate Minister. The price here is eternal vigilance and the dissemination of information to communities who live in the dark. Only then will they call Government and donors to account.

Ian Manning
Luembe Conservancy Trust

On 29/6/07 08:40, "James Kasongo" wrote:

Dear Fr. Chama and all network members Mansa District Land alliance,

Thanks for the professional analysis of the draft land policy. It addresses the concerns which most of us who are involved rural development have been raising regarding the loss ends of the draft land policy. It is my hope that Zambia Land alliance will this time around mobilize civil society to challenge this discriminatory draft land policy meant to promote the interest of the investors and a few privileged Zambians usually politicians.

Zambia is for all of us. We all need land. Zambia is not for sale nor is it for investors, it is for the poor of the poorest who have not alternative homes. Investor have alternatives, some of them can easily go back to there countries and get land, the rich and powerful politicians can buy the statutory land because they have money. And yet the poor in villages depend on their inherited land carefully managed and protected by their royal highness -our respected Traditional leaders. Just like the constitution, CSO should stand up and challenge this half hearted draft land policy.
James Kasongo

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