Zambian President Levy Mwanawasa announced Friday that the government would formulate legislation to define the role of traditional leaders in national economic development activities.
Officially opening the sixth session of the House of Chiefs, Mwanawasa said the government would repeal the current Village Registration and Development Act of 1971 to pave way for the enactment of legislation that would embrace chiefs in national policy-making and development.
The president said the Act was "impracticable" as it was linked to the one-party state which ended in 1991 when the country held its first multi-party elections.
Mwanawasa also expressed hope that traditional leaders would make land under customary tenure available to facilitate the implementation of the Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZ) in various parts of the country.
MFEZ, a policy announced by the government early this year, is aimed at attracting investment in the manufacturing sector in an effort to reduce poverty that is gripping 70 percent of the country's 11 million people.
"It is my hope that traditional rulers will make land available expeditiously in areas where the land will fall in customary tenure," the president said.
He assured the chiefs that the MFEZs would create opportunities to transform some "traditional" areas into industrial and commercial sites with improved modern social infrastructure.
Mwanawasa also implored traditional leaders to cooperate with the government in securing the implementation of the current land policy.
"The land policy would lead to the harmonization of customary and statutory laws on land ownership to make it easier for all members of the public to acquire title deeds," he said.