Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) has noted that the first draft constitution released by the technical committee on the constitution does not adequately address the challenges faced by Zambians in land use and administration, particularly customary land.
ZLA, which is a network of Non Governmental Organizations advocating for fair land policies and laws that take into account the interests of the poor; states that the draft Constitution has not addressed the problems of many landless Zambians who have lived on idle pieces of land undisturbed for many years, but whose rights are not protected.
Meanwhile the land alliance has commended the Technical Committee on the constitution for preparing the draft and upholding progressive articles.
ZLA has noted important provisions such as the Bill of Rights which attempts to protect the lands rights of disadvantaged people including women and people with disabilities and provided in Article 299 for the creation of the Lands Commission.
ZLA chairperson, CEASER KATEBE further says Article 296 that define State Land to include land where minerals, gas and mineral oils, and through which any natural resource passes, should be removed from the Draft Constitution because they do not take into account the interests and benefit of community members who occupy such land.
He says the broad definition of State Land implies that where land was held under customary tenure and enjoyed by communities as a whole, such land would automatically become state land and would turn people into squatters.
Mr Katebe adds that this is discriminatory in that customary land is given the status of devalued land, worth very little adding that Communities would also be deprived of resources which would otherwise have been used to improve their lives.
He has noted that some of the areas described in these clauses are places where local people use for grazing their animals, shrines, picking of mushrooms and collecting firewood hence turning the land into state land will deprive them of resources which are a source of their livelihood.
Commenting further on the land component of the draft constitution, Mr Katebe says Article 296(g) which proposes to turn land that is designated as Multi Facility Economic Zones into state land should be removed from the Draft Constitution as it is a program that can be short term depending on the government of the day.