Zambia: Challenging Forced Eviction of Communities Living on Customary Land

Salc : Staff Writer

SALC is working with the Zambia Land Alliance to challenge the newly created Chikankata District Council’s taking over of individual farms and the grazing land of a community of 4429 people without following the legal and constitutional procedures. No compensation, whether in the form of money or alternative land, was provided to affected community members. Upon taking over of the land, the Council cleared the communal grazing land and started constructing administrative offices, staff houses, and a police station. Sometime in 2013, the Council started subdividing the farms and the remaining portion of the communal grazing land into small plots and offered them for sale to the public. Some members of the public who purchased the plots have since started clearing the land and constructing houses. The Council alleges that the community will not be affected as they will be integrated into the township. However, this is clear deception because it is not possible for the community members, who are farmers with hundreds of cattle, goats and sheep to be integrated into the township. Entire grazing lands have been converted into commercial and residential plots. Once the sale transactions and constructions are completed, the entire community will be evicted from their land and their houses will be demolished. Consequently, the affected community will become landless and homeless, without any means or livelihood.

On 14 November 2013, members of the affected community commenced proceedings in the High Court challenging the Council’s action. However, their application for an interim injunction has not been granted or given a date by the Court. They now hopelessly watch earth moving machines clear away their land and construction advancing to completion in their back yard.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

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