The relevance of the lands tribunal in the resolution of land disputes
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Land is a very important aspect of the livelihoods of Zambian's. It is for this reason that a land tenure system is one that will ensure that rights and interests in land are fully protected. It Is not an argument that disputes will arise relating to land, hence the creation of the Lands Tribunal by the 1995 Lands Act. Tribunals are a machinery of justice which are able to adjudicate upon a specific matter with a panel of people with expertise in a specific field. Particularly, the Lands Tribunal in being a machinery of justice would be a cheap and fast way in which disputes pertaining to land could be resolved. With good intention behind its creation the Lands Tribunal has not performed as was anticipated. Recent decisions of the Supreme Court have had a negative impact on the Lands Tribunal as it has interpreted the jurisdiction of the Lands Tribunal in a narrow fashion, limiting its jurisdiction. As if that were not enough the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Diocese of Monze Vs. Mazabuka District Council, has rendered the Lands Tribunal not only toothless but possibly irrelevant in the resolution of land disputes. It is against this that this paper seeks to establish the relevance of the Lands Tribunal in resolving land disputes. Chapter one in forming the foundation of this paper also defines some important concepts to be used regularly through this paper. Chapter two discusses Zambia's land tenure system from the colonial foundations of land policy in Zambia to the current land tenure system under the 1995 Lands Act. A look at this chapter reveals the need for the Lands Tribunal and the evolution of land dispute resolution prior to its creation. Chapter three of this paper forms the substance as it is a critical analysis of the Lands Tribunal. Its establishment, composition, rules are discussed in great detail and it is illustrated here that the job of the Lands Tribunal is to do substantial justice to the parties. In looking at the jurisdiction of the Lands Tribunal case law is very important as it is from here that what goes on in practice apart from the legal framework is illustrated. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the Lands Tribunal as a court or a tribunal, while established as a court in many respects the Lands Tribunal operates as a court particularly with the same standing as the High Court. Chapter four concludes the paper with a conclusion and recommendations.
- Law