Zambian government to impose restrictions on foreign land ownership

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Zambian President Edgar Lungu has ordered the revision of the existing Land Act to curb foreign ownership of land.

In his State of the Nation address, the president told parliament government will also sequester pieces of land where individual interests outweighed national interests.

He said traditional leaders are the major culprits selling huge tracts of land to foreigners.
“At the rate we are selling land to foreigners, there is veritable danger that we might render our children landless,” he told parliament.

The 1995 Lands Act puts all land in the hands of the president, for and on behalf of the Zambian people. It provides for administration under two tenure systems: statutory and customary tenure.

Statutory land is administered in accordance with written laws by government officials, while customary land is administered by traditional authorities using unwritten and local customary laws.

This arrangement made it easier for the acquisition of customary land through local traditional leaders. However, the land acquired was unsecured for long-term investment and not titled.

“I’m ordering that a revised land act must be tabled before cabinet to stop the indiscriminate sale of land to foreigners,” Lungu said.

In its 2017 budget, government announced a nationwide programme of titling under the National Land Titling Programme (NLTP) aimed at improving land tenure security, increasing transparency in land acquisition and enhancing revenue collection.

The NLTP will be conducted alongside the National Land Audit Programme (NLAP) aimed at taking stock of all land and its use.

Traditional leaders, however, are opposed to the titling and stock-taking audit.

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