500 families face eviction after State farm sale

Over 500 families of former employees of the defunct  Zambia Agricultural Development Limited face eviction after Government allegedly sold the land they have been occupying since 1995 after the termination of their employment.

The former employees have sued Government in the Lusaka High Court and are demanding that the Commissioner of Lands allocates them a vacant land in Palabana area in Chongwe.

In their statement of claim filed in the High Court, leader of the group Daniel Mushanga says they were employees of the defunct Government parastatal under the Ministry of Agriculture and where staying on the sprawling farm of the company until their employment was terminated in 1995 when the Government ceased operations on the land pending the parastatal’s privatization.

He said they were informed by the officials from the Ministry of Agriculture as former workers as well as sitting tenants that the land and the houses would be sold to them as a management buyout which was the norm with other parastatal companies.

Mr Mushanga said they were also informed by the officials that until such a time as an advertisement for sale of land appeared in the press which they should respond to, no steps would be taken by the Government to inconvenience them.

He contended that since the assurance from Government officials the plaintiffs enjoyed the property until 2013 when they were served with High Court documents in which a company called Zamdaell Farms Limited was claiming to have bought the property from their ex-employer at a sum of K 330, 000.

Mr Mushanga said they conducted a search at the Lands and Deeds Registry and confirmed the purported sale of the land to Zamdaell Farms.

He said no advert was ever inserted in any news media inviting persons to bid for the farm, neither was any notice given to the plaintiffs about the pending sale of the property.

Mr Mushanga added that to re-address the wrongful and irregular sale of the land to a third party without any advert or notice they made some submissions to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) as well as the Task Force on illegal land allocation and did seek the intervention of the then Minister of Lands, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Wylbur Simusa, the permanent secretary Daisy Ng’ambi and the then Commissioner of Lands Barnaby Mulenga where it was resolved that they should not be interfered with, harassed or displaced until they had been offered alternative land.

He said despite the resolution with Government, Zamdaell Farms obtained title to the land as well as an eviction order against the plaintiffs which they have attempted to enforce.

Mr Mushanga said it was obvious that with their title deed, Zamdaell Farms has a legitimate claim to the land currently occupied by the plaintiffs and the only solution that might be available was for the Commissioner of lands to consider finding an alternative vacant land for them within Lusaka.