Chimambo and Others v Commissioner of Lands and Others [2006] ZMSC 33 (10 January 2006)

Case summary

The appellants were appealing against the decision of the lower court, arguing that the court erred in law when it declared as lawful the granting of title in respect of certain portion of land to the fourth respondent. The second respondent filed a cross appeal, arguing that the Judge in the court below misdirected himself in law and fact in holding that there was illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety on the part of the first respondent.

When the land was granted to the respondent, it was not subject to the provisions of the Local Forest Act, Chapter 199. The forest in question was degazetted as a protected area, which resulted in land degradation. The government re-gazetted the forest, but a certain portion remained de-gazetted. In dismissing the main issue, the court found that the appellants failed to consider the status of the land when the first respondent dealt with it. The court found that the power of the first respondent to allocate land during the period the local forest was de-gazetted cannot be impeached because the land was vacant and available for allocation to deserving persons. Thus, the first respondent had the power to allocate land that is free to any person who qualified under law. 

The appellants lost the main appeal and succeeded in the cross appeal. The respondents won the main appeal but lost the cross-appeal. The court made no order of costs.

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