Michael Sata popularly known as King Cobra came to the Zambian Presidency, on the shoulders of the Zambian youth who voted for him en masse. His canny straight talk and practical approach inspired, the young people to hope for better prospects under his Presidency. However, he now finds himself without means to assuage their impatience with a sluggish economy and lack of any positive movement from the endemic high unemployment.
What does King Cobra tell his still unemployed “don’t kubeba enthusiasts “?
Whether it was a gaffe or wink… wink am trying to appear strong by talking tough to a former leader of the free world, that lead King Cobra to accuse Bush of colonial plunder; his message of the colonialists giving back what they took from our country, might resonate with the Zambian youth.
Young people read about a time in our country’s past when 2 Zambian Kwacha’s were worth 1 British Pound, when Zambians did not need a visa to get into the UK or the United States, that history is at such a grave variance with the country now before the Zambian youth. Saddled with crippling foreign debt and dwindling investment, it belies it’s glorious past and has become a vicious trap of poverty that only a few can escape.
For majority that cannot escape, any lifeline goes a long way in assuaging their impatience with the status quo.
Enter Sata’s gaffe, it has been said in politics one must never miss any opportunity to extract all the good a bad situation offers.
Nothing is more central in the lives of the urban youth than the issue of land. The City of Lusaka for example has run out of residential land for new applicants. This means its young population can never hope to build their own houses in the city nor can they be buried in the city when they die as even burial places (Leopards/Chingwele) have also run out land for new graves.
According to the laws of Zambia, all land in Zambia is vest absolutely in the President and shall be held by him in perpetuity for and on behalf of the people of Zambia.
Yet, while young Zambians can not find land to build on or be buried on, non- Zambians hold title to most of the Land in Lusaka and are now profiteering from land they paid next to nothing for, in the colonial era. Non- Zambians are now offering small parcels land for building at Meanwood development or burial at Mutumbi.
Since all land in Zambia is administered and controlled by the President for the use or common benefit, direct or indirect, of the people of Zambia. Mr. Sata can make good on his rhetoric by simply getting back the land non-Zambians took in the colonial days.
Simply change the lease terms for non- Zambians as follows –
The President shall not alienate any land to non- Zambians or permanent residents for a term exceeding forty-nine years and where the interest or right in land is being inherited upon death or is being transferred under a right of survivorship or by operation of law; the President shall not renew a lease, upon expiry, for a further term not exceeding the concurrent forty- nine years even if he is satisfied that the lessee has complied with or observed the terms, conditions or covenants of the lease, the lease will be liable to forfeiture.
This amendment if made retrogressive to 1964 might have the effect of freeing up some land in Lusaka that can be available for young Zambians and consequently also free King Cobra foot from his own mouth, at least in the eyes of young Zambians.