Landless grab land at Katima

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Obrein Simasiku

Omuthiya-Hundreds of people at Katima Mulilo in the Zambezi Region, frustrated by the snail-pace at which residential land is being serviced and allocated to applicants, have since last month started to illegally grab unserviced land in the bushy area between Choto and Cowboy.

Although the exact number could not be independently verified, those directly involved in the land grab, as per their own register, said they currently number around 2,000.

The latest bout of land grabbing comes nearly two years after Katima Mulilo Town promised to avail 1,000 unserviced residential erven to members of Lwa Yaha (that loosely translates into ‘We Build’), a group that has been advocating for land to be availed to the landless.

The council entered into agreement with Lwa Yaha land activist movement group after the group launched a mass land occupation at Macaravan East in July 2015. The agreement then was that the council would start allocating land within three months, while municipal services would follow later, but locals say this proved yet another empty promise.

This time around, the landless group, which includes young and old, targeted prime municipal land.

The latest occupation happened despite last week’s meeting between the parties, where the town council advised land grabbers to desist from such action and vacate the land. The directive, however, seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as others are reportedly still clearing portions of land.

Katima Mulilo’s public relations officer, Pasval Elijah, said last week they had a meeting with the land grabbers and instructed them to stop their actions for now and rather set up a committee that the town council could engage, to reach a mutual consensus.

“This committee to be set up will be engaging with the town council. We decided on this because we realised that most of the people that are grabbing land are those that already have plots or houses, as well as those coming from the rural areas just for the purpose of grabbing land,” Elijah said.

“With the committee we would request them to write down the names of all the people that have cleared land at the area, so that we scrutinise, verify and establish those that are really in need,” she further explained.

She claimed that since the recent meeting some land grabbers have vacated the plots, however sources New Era spoke to yesterday said they were still on site and would remain firm in their resolve until council keeps its promise to allocate them land.

They also threatened to stage a mass protest demonstration if council does not urgently address the plight of the landless. Some said they had lost trust in the authorities after they abided by council’s earlier promise to avail to the local community the needed residential plots.

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