Zambian President Edgar Lungu says chiefs must not abuse their role by selling land to foreigners at the expense of Zambians.
“The displacing of subjects by selling vast chunks of land to foreign investors must stop,” Lungu told the House of Chiefs that serves as the country’s traditional parliament.
Lungu’s remarks come after mounting criticism of traditional leaders ceding vast tracts of land to foreigners, while the majority of locals are struggling to acquire property. In the latest incident it was alleged that a Central province chief sold an entire chiefdom, including his palace and 26 villages.
Lungu said the land audit which started in 2014 will help address the many hurdles many Zambians face in trying to acquire land.
Traditional leaders are empowered under the customary land tenure system to give out land of up to 250 hectares, subject to meeting conditions set by the Ministry of Lands and the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA). Statutory land is administered by the Ministry of Lands and local councils.
Lungu said as custodians of land, chiefs should not abuse their role but preserve the land for their subjects.
He said customary tenure cushioned the majority from hardships of land acquisition and will be enhanced once the land audit is complete.