Thursday, March 21, 2013

Chiefs elect Nkomeshya leader of their House

Chiefs elect Nkomeshya leader of their House
By Joseph Mwenda
Thu 21 Mar. 2013, 14:01 CAT

CHIEFTAINESS Nkomeshya Mukamambo II of the Soli people of Chongwe has become the first female to head the House of Chiefs in its 49 years of existence.

And chieftainess Nkomeshya has called on land stakeholders to help review the Lands Act of Zambia in ensuring its equal distribution.

Speaking during the Chiefs Indaba held at Fairview hotel in Lusaka yesterday, chieftainess Nkomeshya called for the support of other traditional leaders in balancing rural-urban land development.

"The House of Chiefs has been standing for 49 years. There has never been a female holding that position of a chairperson. I thank the members of the House and I am grateful to my God. It poses a lot of challenges. It is not about being a chairperson of the House of Chiefs, my responsibility now
covers the entire chieftaincy of the country comprising 286 chiefs, they are my responsibility. I need to hear from them as I also need to be supported. We need to work together with all stakeholders in rural and urban areas," she said.

Chieftainess Nkomeshya highlighted the need for equal distribution of land.

"We need to sit down and come up with a position that will help this country on how our land will be equally distributed and a further explanation of issues pertaining to land under customary tenure," said chieftainess Nkomeshya.

"For example, if consent has been given for land under customary tenure, what does it mean? If a person has failed to utilize it to the satisfaction of the Commissioner of Lands who has the power to reposes, where does it go? Does it revert back to its original jurisdiction? Those things need explanations. We need time to scrutinize these issues."

And Commissioner of Lands Barnaby Mulenga said issues of land needed serious discussion now that the country is in the process of amending its Constitution.

"…94 percent of land in Zambia falls under customary tenure, while only six per cent is State land under leasehold tenure. This is very important to discuss now when we are coming up with a new constitution and the fact that it has made provisions specifically talking about customary and State land… There is a difference between customary land and customary tenure. There are certain portions of customary land that have been converted from customary tenure to leasehold tenure. That is changing the conditions upon which you are holding the land but it does not change the categorization as somebody sitting on customary land," Mulenga said.

He said there was no law in the Country that allowed a change of land from customary to state ownership.

"What is there is to convert the conditions upon which you are holding it in order to get a title, but the land does not change to fall under State Land," said Mulenga, adding that some game management areas, schools, clinics and forest reserves are still sitting on customary land.

Lands minister Wybur Simuusa said the challenges relating to customary land led to a drawback in the country's economy development efforts.

"We acknowledge the fact that customary land which is not on formal title prevented the occupants from using it as security for accessing formal credit financing," said Simuusa.

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