Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Customary land and signs of light!

At the Fifth National Development Plan (FNDP) Stakeholder's meeting in Lusaka, chiefs' representative, James Matale, said that chiefs should be allowed to retain absolute title to their land, while giving investors and non-subjects renewable lease rights under various chiefdom trusts, and that " the land leased for commercial use should attract royalites and fees which will form part of the income and resources for financing adminstration and development projects in their areas." This is the first public statement revealing that the chiefs have studied the Landsafe Trust Investment Model for customary and protected areas, which I had given to the House of Chiefs a year ago, and that they see it as a way forward for attracting investment, but without alienating the land.

However, what chiefs have to remember is that - with the exception of Barotse, it is the headmen - chaired by the chief, who are the custodians of land - all land ownership being vested in the President. Total authority over land cannot be exercised by chiefs alone as they will continue alienating it against the wishes of their headmen and subjects. And non-subjects (Zambians) should not have to make lease payments for land used in the traditional subsistence sense.

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