Investors buying traditional land in Sinazongwe is illegal – CEJ

 Investors buying traditional land in Sinazongwe is illegal – CEJ

By Staff Writer
Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ) says investors buying customary land in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province that their transactions are not legally binding because no chief endorsed their documents.

CEJ Executive Director Maggie Mwape has commended Sinazongwe Town Council for rejecting to assist in processing documents for title deeds as agents of the Ministry of Lands.

Ms Mwape said the Chiefs Act Chapter 287 of the Laws of Zambia only mandates the sitting Chief or Chieftainess to legally sign customary land deals for conversion to Statutory Land.

She said that Chief Sinanzongwe died in December 2018 while Senior Chief Mweemba of Sinazongwe District also died in July 2021.

Ms Mwape said they is need for the quick resolution of succession disputes in both chiefdoms in order to ensure that the due process of customary law is followed to protect communal land.

“Not having sitting chiefs in Sinazongwe who also expected to be part of the investment negotiating process has led to exploitation of community land rights and rampant mineral exploration,” she said.

Ms Mwape was disturbed to learn that some investors were relocating villagers and their graves in Sinazongwe when the due processes of customary land transactions were incomplete.

She was speaking at a Multi stakeholders meeting which coincided with the official opening of the Centre for Environment Justice Office in Sinazongwe District, Southern Province.

“Traditional leadership has a critical role in the administration of customary land,” she said.

Ms Mwape also said that, in December 2022, CEJ launched a three year program Resilient Initiatives for Sustainable Environment (RISE) project being implemented in Sinazongwe and Serenje Districts with support from BftW.