Friday, December 12, 2008

PF MP protests land offer to Chinese

PF MP protests land offer to Chinese
Written by Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Friday, December 12, 2008 4:28:11 AM

Patriotic Front Nkana member of parliament Mwenya Musenge last Saturday walked out of a full council meeting in protest against the offer of 30 hectares of land in Garneton for construction of houses for 300 Chinese nationals.

In an interview on Monday, Musenge said he could not be part of a decision that would sanction the settlement of Chinese when thousands of applications for land by Zambians had been pending for years without being processed.

Kitwe City Council last Saturday resolved to offer 30 hectares of land to the Zambia China Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone Development (ZCCZ) Limited.

ZCCZ had initially applied for 36 hectares of land in Garneton next to Chambishi Metals to construct houses, cafes, canteens, gymnasiums and a sports field for an expected number of 300 Chinese.

Musenge complained that Zambians had not been served first, hence his decision to walk out of the council meeting.

“I got a bit frustrated,” Musenge said. “I could not agree with the council resolution to give land to the Chinese in Garneton when we have the majority of our people, here in Kitwe, we have thousands and thousands of applications...and at the end of the day they cannot access that land. Meanwhile, we are able to give a large chunk of land to the Chinese.”

Musenge said in the council meeting, he asked that President Rupiah Banda re-look at the directive made by his predecessor late Levy Mwanawasa for the allocation of 30 hectares of land but that his idea was blocked.

“I had asked in that meeting that ‘what can we do because at this level there is no way we can allow this thing to go through?’ And they said ‘No, land is vested in the President and these directives came from the Republican President that we need to give land so there is nothing that we can do’,” Musenge said. “And I asked ‘why can’t we give Rupiah Banda to look at this issue and see whether it is in order to give such land?’ And they said ‘No, even if he looked at it there is nothing that he can do because it has already been given’. In that case, I decided to walk out because I did not want my name to be part of those that approved that resolution.

“From the look of things, we have created an artificial shortage of land…and because of that artificial shortage of land that we have created, there is now too much corruption in land allocation at the council.”

During the council meeting that approved the offer of 30 hectares of land to ZCCZ, councillors were told that some Zambians would be accommodated on the premises.

The council resolved to sign a memorandum of understanding with ZCCZ to indicate that Zambians would be accommodated on the premises.

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