No chief owns land in Zambia because it is a common heritage for all Zambians and therefore, no chief should threaten to chase people away from their chiefdom based on tribe, former Communication and Transport deputy minister Alfred Ndhlovu has said.
Commenting on the deepening land wrangle in Chipangali involving Paramount Chief Kalonga Gawa Undi and Paramount Chief Mpezeni, Mr. Ndhlovu, who served in Frederick Chiluba’s government, said the wrangles were unnecessary as Zambians were free to settle anywhere as long as the land was not occupied by other people.
He explained that the fact that chiefs were recognised by Government as custodians of traditional land did not make them owners, but that they were just helping government in ensuring that people lived in harmony with one another.
“Land is not owned by chiefs. It is a common heritage for all the people and therefore, no one should be chased from any piece of land based on their tribe anywhere in Zambia. The fact that they are recognised by government does not mean that they own the land because it is vested in the President,” Mr. Ndhlovu said.
He observed that there was need for the people in Chipangali to settle the dispute that had erupted amicably rather than resorting to a bitter exchange of words by the two chiefs.
“There is no reason for arguing about the land in Chipangali. The local people should just sit and decide on how they want to use the land but no one should be chased. Let the people reason properly and no one should say this land belongs to a given tribe because that land was a jungle before any of them settled there and whoever settled first should be allowed to stay regardless of their tribe,” Mr Ndhlovu said.
He explained that traditional leadership in Zambia was a feudal system which was not elected by the people and that their stay in their positions were non-democratic, which made them have limited control over national assets since the country had a democratic system of governance.
Mr Ndhlovu said chiefs who did not represent the interest of the Government of the day needed to be degazetted to prevent any confusion.
“Chiefdoms are feudal systems and these have been absorbed in the House of Chiefs and the chiefs who don’t want to support the government of the day should be degazetted because their role is to help Government,” he said.
Mr. Ndhlovu has since called upon the House of Chiefs to intervene in the matter by making sure that the stand-off was resolved amicably.
“House of Chiefs should help resolve these problems because it doesn’t make sense that people should be fighting over land. Since 1900, land in Zambia had been inhabited by both humans and animals and shared it equitably and nobody complained and we never had reports of land wrangles. Every single human being has space to live in,” he said.