A partner of the ACT Allliance Joint Programme in Zambia, the Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) has made a difference in the lives of a Solwezi based family after helping them reclaim land that had been grabbed from them by a named local Church.
“I am very happy that our family land has been given back to us after so many years,” said the family representative, Mr. Alex Mukube Mwanza. “I am highly indebted to Zambia Land Alliance and appreciate the work they are doing in the lives of many other people facing similar challenges in the district.”
ZLA Enhancing Sustainable Livelihoods Through Land Tenure Security (SULTS) project Solwezi Coordinator, Marvelous Chansa, narrated how the problem began: “It all started in 2000 when the named Church rented a piece of land from Mr. Mwanza (now deceased) to temporarily use for their meetings,” he reported.
However after Mr. Mwanza’s death, the Church started to put up a permanent structure without the permission of other family members. Mr. Mwanza’s son, Mr. Alex Mukube Mwanza decided to follow up the issue with the Church and was surprised to learn that the church had even began the process of titling the land.
“We held several meetings with church representatives to try and resolve the matter but no progress was made and we failed to reach a conclusion,” said Mr. Mwanza. “This prompted us to seek solutions on the matter elsewhere and we approached various places and people but failed to get the kind of help we needed.”
In June 2014, a neighbour that had heard of the ZLA advised the family to seek the support of the organisation for advice on their land issues. He was advised to follow the matter using appropriate and well established channels.
“I was advised by the Paralegal Officer at ZLA to seek the attention of the Area Development Committee (ADC) as the starting point,” he said. “As soon as I delivered the referral letter given, the Rural Development Committee (RDC), took action and a letter was written to the church to convene a meeting to facilitate the hearing from both parties and seek the way forward.”
The church refused to attend the meeting and the ZLA advised the family to institute civil court proceedings against the church. On November 6, 2014, the court ruled in favour of the family and the church was ordered to vacate the premises before a set date.
The Zambia Land Alliance is a network of NGOs working for just land policies and laws that take into account the interests of the poor. The organization promotes secured access, ownership and control over land through lobbying and advocacy, research and community participation. The organization has district offices in Kitwe, Chingola, Petauke, Chipata,
Monze, Lusaka, Mansa and Gwembe. It is present in Solwezi through the European Union and DCA funded SULTS project.
The alliance began as a committee in 1997 to coordinate activities of member NGOs. The formation of the alliance was necessitated by the Zambian Government’s land reform process initiated in the early 1990s.