A critical analysis of the law relating to compulsory acquisition of land in Zambia
Scott, Veronica Kathllen
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The government of Zambia has been slow to utilise the powers granted by the Lands Acquisition Act. It is appreciated, that perhaps this could be due to the lack of financial resources for compensatory purposes. However, there still exists large areas of Land that is both undeveloped and unutilised, that would not give rise to a right of compensation, yet remain in the hands of its owners at the expense of redistribution.Presently, this perhaps may not appear to be a dire problem, yet with the rise in economic investment by both foreign and local investors, the need for viable land will also increase, land being the very foundation and framework on which social, political and economic activities of the nation are hinged.It is stated that land or an interest in it, is said to have been compulsorily acquired, if it is purchased or taken under statutory powers without the agreement of the owner.1It has further been observed, that compulsory acquisition of land, irrespective of whether it is termed compulsory purchase, is essentially the coercive taking of land and interests in land for public purposes The rationale advanced for compulsory acquisition or the law relating to it is that if real property were a res nullis, meaning the property of no one, it would be valueless in the economic sense and basically there would be no purpose for compulsorily acquiring it as it would in effect belong to no one.Conversely, if all land belonged to the state there would be no need for compensation either. The state in its all-encompassing power could simply divert that land, irrespective of whether or not it was occupied. The state, in effect, would incur no "liability" and therefore, there would not arise the need for compensation.It follows, therefore, that the existence of a system of private ownership of land is a pre-requisite to any compulsory acquisition of land and the attendant compensation by the state..The principle concern of this essay, therefore, is to critically assess the main provisions of the law that governs the compulsory acquisition of land in Zambia. It should be noted, however, that a number of socio-economic, and particularly, political changes have occurred in Zambia since the enactment of the Lands Acquisition Act in 1970. The question, therefore, that has to be addressed is whether the Act in its present form still has any real legal significance.
- Law