By OLIVER SAMBOKO
VILLAGERS of Ngabo in Namwala have accused Government of failing to take action against the continued illegal occupation of their communal grazing land by UPND president Hakainde Hichilema.
And Lands minister Jean Kapata has warned Mr Hichilema to stop bullying Namwala villagers over their grazing land by fencing it off because that was not his land.
“I am sending officers there to ensure people are not harassed,” Ms Kapata said.
The villagers said Government should ensure that the directive to Mr Hichilema to stop fencing off the more than 1, 500 hectares communal land was respected by the opposition leader.
Speaking to Daily Nation, one of the affected villagers, James Mayaba, who also spoke on behalf of other villagers said it was shocking that directives by Government to Mr Hichilema did not amount to anything.
He said despite several protests from the affected villagers, the Ministry of Lands has done nothing to stop Mr Hichilema and his agents from fencing off the community’s grazing land.
“Mr Hichilema is fencing off the communal land because he doesn’t want his animals to mix with ours but he is forgetting that he found us here and if really he cares about people as he claims, let him open the grazing land to the owners,” he said.
Mr Mayaba said the development had cast uncertainty on the villagers who were now worried about their land considering that the matter had taken long to resolve.
He said the villagers fear that if Mr Hichilema ascended to power next year, they would never have their land back as most people who were championing for the repossession of land would be harassed and jailed.
Mr Mayaba said Mr Hichilema connived with a chief and acquired about the 1, 500 hectares belonging to the community, leaving 600 households without grazing land and about 40 families without farming land.
He said from the time Lands Minister Jean Kapata ordered him to allow other villagers in Namwala access to the over 1, 500 hectares of land, he had not complied.
And in response, Ms Kapata told the Daily Nation yesterday that she would ensure that the villagers are protected and allowed to use the communal grazing land.
She said there was nothing special about Mr Hichilema’s animals for him to fence off land which was not his.
By OLIVER SAMBOKO