Land administration in Zambia: An appraisal of the efficiency of the Lands Act No.20 of 1995

Thumbnail Image
Sikazwe, Frank M
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
This Essay attempts to look at Land administration in Zambia: An appraisal of the Lands Act No. 20 of 1995. In order to achieve this, the Essay has evaluated the salient provisions of the Act. Firstly, the Essay traces the development of land administration in Zambia. In this, it traces land administration through the pre-colonial period, colonial period and post independence. During the colonial period, three categories of land were created namely; Native Reserves, Trust Lands and Crown Land. Two different systems of laws applied, that is, customary law to Native reserves and Trust Lands and English law to Crown Lands. These categories of land continued to exist after independence with Crown Land being renamed as State Land and later the two other categories, that is, Native and Trust Land were merged into customary land. The Essay has also discussed the land reforms of 1975 urshered in by The Land (Conversion of Titles) Act, 1975. Some of these reforms are; (a) vesting of land in the President absolutely and was to be held of him in perpetuity for and on behalf of the people (b) the abolishment of all freeholds estates and introduction of statutory leases of 100 years duration (c) abolishing of sale transfer and other alienation for value (d) imposition of restriction on extent of agricultural holdings and making the requirement of the consent of the President mandatory to any transaction. Secondly, the Essay looks at the land reforms that the government sought to enact through the Lands Act No. 20 of 1995. The Lands Act of 1995 is a good piece of legislation, which has progressive features. The Essay has considered the salient provisions of the Act, which amongst others are; those vesting land in the President, those conferring value to land, alienation of land to non-Zambians and customary provisions with their advantages and disadvantages. Thirdly, the essay has also looked at the two institutions that the Lands Act No. 20 of 1995 established, that is, the Lands Tribunal and the Land Development fund. The Lands Tribunal, it has been noted is a good creation of the Act in that it provides speedy justice in land disputes, it is also cheap and in an ideal situation, it is supposed to be readily accessible to the poor. Sadly, it is not accessible to the poor in that it is located in Lusaka and its sittings are restricted to Lusaka and the Copperbelt. The effect of this is that the rural poor who cannot afford transport expenses are unable to benefit from the services of the Tribunal. The tribunal it has been noted suffers some setbacks amongst which is the fact that the Government does not adequately fund it and this has greatly affected its operations. The Lands Tribunal is an important institution and that the government should be adequately funding this institution so that it can effectively discharge its functions. The Land Development Fund is also an important and good creation of the Act in that it encourages opening up of rural areas to development. Local authorities it has been noted should take advantage of this Fund to open up their areas to development. It has been noted in this study that alienation of land takes long, is expensive and this works against the rural poor, therefore, there is need for reforms to make it expeditious and cheap so that it does not discriminate against the rural poor who are the majority. Ultimately reforms have been suggested to further decentralize the Lands Department to Provincial centers so that the land allocation process is made cheap and expeditious. The vesting of land in the President, it has been noted in this study opens land administration system to abuse by the President as evidenced by the happenings of the run up to the 2001 elections where title deeds were being issued at a political rally on the Copperbelt. Ultimately reform in this area of the Act is desirable so that land administration system is not susceptible to abuse by the President. It has also been observed that the Office of the Commissioner of Lands is supposed to enjoy independence so as to effectively do away with the political interference, which is the order of the day. This Office should either be created under the Lands Act or be made a constitutional office
Land administration-Zambia , Land Use-Zambia , Land Tenure-Zambia