The Lands Act, Chapter 184 of the Laws of Zambia (the "Lands Act") governs land tenure and administration of land in Zambia. All land in Zambia is vested in the President for and on behalf of the people of Zambia.
Zambia operates two (2) land tenure systems; leasehold tenure system and customary tenure system. Under the leasehold tenure system, land is controlled by the State and may be alienated to any eligible legal or natural persons. Under customary tenure, land is administered under customary law by chiefs who are the custodians of the land on behalf of the communities within their jurisdictions. Different customary laws apply to customary land depending on the customs of the people in each particular area.
Restrictions on land acquisition
Non-Zambians cannot hold land in Zambia except under the following circumstances
- if they are a permanent resident and hold a resident permit;
- if they are a registered investor under the Investment, Trade and Business Development Act, No. 18 of 2022 (the "Investment Act");
- if they have obtained the President's consent in writing;
- if they are a company incorporated in Zambia and have at lease seventy-five (75) percent of the issued shares held by Zambians;
- if they are a statutory corporation created by an Act of Parliament;
- if they are a co-operative society and less than twenty-five (25) percent of the members are non-Zambians;
- if they are a body registered under the Land (Perpetual Succession) Act, Chapter 186 of the Laws of Zambia and are a non-profit making, charitable, religious, educational or philanthropic organisation or institution and approved by the Minister of Lands for registration;
- if their interest or right in question arises out of a lease, sub-lease, or under-lease, for a period not exceeding five (5) years, or a tenancy agreement;
- if their interest or right in land is being inherited upon death or is being transferred under a right of survivorship or by operation of law; or
- if they are a commercial bank registered under the Companies Act and the Banking and Financial Services Act; or
- under a concession agreement under the Wildlife Act No. 14 of 2015.
Land cannot be alienated for a continuous period of more than ninety-nine (99) years unless it is considered necessary in national interest, and approved by twothirds majority of the members of the national assembly.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.