Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Robin Palmer comments on draft Land Policy...

The Draft Land Policy
Zambia’s draft Land Administration and Management Policy, but referred to throughout as the Draft Land Policy, is dated October 2006.[1] It is a working rather than a formal policy document and carries this health warning: ‘It should not be quoted and interpreted as the policy of the Government of Zambia or any other government ministry or department until it has been finally agreed and adopted.’

Its final sections on implementation, resource mobilisation and monitoring and evaluation cover barely half a page. There is a brief background section and a brief section on vision, rationale, guiding principles and objectives. The bulk of its 52 pages are devoted to ‘situation analysis, challenges and policy measures’. These cover the following issues: (1) international and internal boundaries, (2) vestment and land tenure, (3) customary tenure, (4) leasehold tenure, (5) land administration, including land allocation and land registration, (6) the Land Development Fund, (7) institutional framework, (8) legal framework, (9) surveys, (10) geo-information, (11) land information, (12) land value and property markets, (13) tax and non tax revenue, (14) spatial planning, (15) dispute resolution, (16) private sector participation, (17) transparency and accountability, (18) cross-cutting issues, including decentralisation, gender, HIV/AIDS and other terminal diseases, persons with disabilities, youth, empowerment of citizens, environment and natural resources, tenure insecurity.

The Draft Land Policy contains many admirably frank admissions concerning an overall lack of human and institutional capacity, lack of information and of basic data, lack of transparency and accountability, outdated laws, policy confusion and even ‘fraudulent behaviours’ and ‘deterioration of integrity among institutions dealing with land management and management.’ In response to the listed challenges, including the wonderful ‘lack of compliance by land users’, it offers a series of policy measures, many of which are of a very general nature, are often banal and stand little serious chance of ever being implemented, e.g. ‘establish a well functioning land delivery system’.

Interestingly, concerns are raised about the potential for political interference if land continues to be vested in the President.

There are suggestions for setting maximum holding sizes linked to capability.

There is a need to ‘ensure that non-citizens and foreign companies are not allowed to acquire land through transfer or purchase of customary land’, but government should ‘introduce measures to encourage leasing of land by foreign investors and residents in line with the Citizenship Economic Empowerment Act.’ Yet later land under customary tenure ‘is not easily accessible for investment purposes’ and hence there is need to ‘carry out sensitisation campaigns in order to ensure that some of the idle customary land can be converted to leasehold to promote investment in various communities.’

99 year leases are too long and should be replaced by a scale of 1-99 years ‘based on advice from Land Use Experts.’

There is a call to ‘ensure that land that remains underdeveloped and unutilised within the specified period is repossessed.’ This has been a serious concern in many parts of the country, especially around the Copperbelt.

On gender, the Draft Land Policy notes among the challenges the lack of an enabling environment, discriminatory inheritance rules and rights, lack of disaggregated data based on gender ‘which makes it difficult to plan’, lack of recognition of women’s labour in agriculture, inadequate participation of women in land administration, lack of advocacy and sensitisation to encourage women to own land.

Robin Palmer
Land Rights Adviser
Mokoro Ltd

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