Zambia: Fear Grips Chiawa Subjects

SCORES of residents in Chief Chiawa's area say they are on the verge of being displaced following the decision by the traditional leader to allocate their farming land to private investors who are now chasing the natives.

The residents from Mushonganende and Makanya villages told the Sunday Times in a walk-in interview that their land was now being taken by private investors after allegedly being sold by Chieftainess Chiawa.

But the traditional leader vehemently denied ever selling land to investors.

Kennedy Muchochoma said some residents were being asked to leave their places by people claiming to have bought the land from Chieftainess Chiawa.

"We are not against investing in the area by any investor but we are against the idea of selling land because these investors are now displacing people," Mr Muchochoma said.

The traditional leader has apparently admitted in the past that she was the custodian of the land with powers to give it to any investor but disputed claims that the allocation had displaced her subjects.

She also accused some headmen of mobilising her subjects in a bid to dethrone her and vowed never to leave her 24-year chieftainship because there was nothing wrong she had done.

But Mr Muchochoma said: "There is no one who wants to take over from her. We are just concerned with the way she is selling land.

"We are not against investors but they should not be allowed to buy the land because once they do that, they start displacing people who have been there since time immemorial."

According to some documents availed to the Sunday Times, more than 15,000 hectares of land have been divided among Maxwell Mateyu Syamalimba, Mutemwa Mutemwa and Kafuba Mboma, who are appealing as investors that have acquired the land in question.

Jacqueline Kapulele from Makanya Village said her farm had now been surrounded by a boundary fence and the investor was asking her to leave.

"I was shocked because as I am talking to you, my farm is inside the fence where they (investors) are building a lodge, and when I asked they said it's a private land and that I should leave," she said.

But Chieftainess Chiawa said, through secretary to the chiefs' council Isaiah Mupeto, that no one had been displaced although there had been some investors who had acquired land in the area.

"The chief is righteous and innocent because there is no one who has been affected and I am wondering where people claiming to have been displaced are coming from," he said.

Mr Mupeto said the residents were being influenced by an Asian man who was funding them to cause anarchy in the chiefdom.

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