By Godfrey Chikumbi in Kawambwa
Mon 16 Dec. 2013, 14:01 CAT
COMMENT - This is why the neolibera dogma of wanting title deeds so that land can be collateral for banks to lend money is such a bad idea. There are too many poor people around just to give people land only. There has to be a comprehensive agricultural development campaign, to provide people with access to small machinery, markets, and advisers - and permaculture is the way to go. - MrK
SENIOR Chief Puta of the Bwile people in Chienge district says the decision by Minister of Lands Harry Kalaba to ban the sale of customary land has angered chiefs in the country.
The government has with immediate effect banned the sale of customary land. Addressing journalists in Lusaka last week, Kalaba directed the Commissioner of Lands and councils countrywide not to process any papers relating to the sale of customary land.
Kalaba also explained that customary land which had been illegally sold would be repossessed and that the ministry would carry out an audit on such land. But chief Puta said the government decision had annoyed him and other chiefs in the country.
He said it was a sign of disrespect and negligence for Kalaba to accuse chiefs of selling land without specifying particular chiefs.
"Honourable Kalaba shouldn't scandalise chiefs. The whites (colonial masters) respected us that's why they recognised us as chiefs, senior and paramount chiefs. His (Kalaba) statement has angered all the chiefs in the country. He should mention chiefs who have been selling land. If he has some chiefs where he comes from, they should be made to answer to the charges in the House of Chiefs. My tradition in Bwile chiefdom doesn't allow me to sell land, we have the Bwile Development Trust chaired by a chairperson," he said.
"If you want a mine in the chiefdom, you can write to the Bwile Royal Council and we can give you with a percentage to the Bwile Development Trust and that money goes to develop the chiefdom."
He said the ban on the sale of customary land did not affect his chiefdom because there was a system that dealt with land and not him as a traditional leader.
"If you come to my chiefdom looking for a mine, it is not the senior chief to issue a licence, it is the Ministry of Mines. I just issue a letter of consent. Now who is more corrupt between the one who issues a licence and the one who just consents?" he asked.
He said as a custodian of customary land, he safeguarded land for his subjects and had power to apportion land to whoever applied through the Bwile Royal Council.
The traditional leader said he was disapointed that the statement was coming from Kalaba who he said came from the royal family.
He claimed that Kalaba issued the directive out of excitement without knowing it would annoy and hurt chiefs.
"Honourable Kalaba is our own son as a prince who should have respect for chiefs. I don't think President (Michael) Sata can tell him to do that; the Head of State has respect for chiefs, that's why he created the Ministry of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs. But we don't allow those negligent and disrespectful statements, it pains me a lot," said Chief Puta.
"They (government) are locking themselves, you know you can't do anything in the chiefdom without the hand of the chief. I don't know why these politicians forget so easily. They only respect us during campaigns; after the elections they forget about us," he said.