By Draxon Maloya
Continued rise in number of court cases in land disputes is said to be hindering rapid infrastructure development in the country.
The sentiments were made in Mzuzu on friday by Innobuild Private Limited Northern Region Manager Gift Nyasulu when his company was awarding boxers in this years Malawi Amateur Boxing Association online tournament.
Nyasulu said now is the era when people should consider acquiring pieces of land which are well demarcated and have valid documents.
“We ensure that Malawians do not acquire pieces of land which are under dispute because that hinders the fast growth of the country’s infrastructure development,” Nyasulu said.
During day long media training workshop on land reform in Nkhatabay a couple of weeks ago, former Commissioner of Lands, Kilian Palika disclosed that cases about land disputes are the third highest number of cases registered in the country’s courts.
The Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, also admitted that the new land laws which were passed in 2016 by government continue to meet resistance from some stakeholders in the country.
Msukwa says this is why since the laws were passed, government has been piloting its implementation in some districts while at the same time engaging various stakeholders including the media from the Nyika Media Club to ensure that there is adequate exposure of the implementation gaps in order for the country to have well-informed review process before rolling out the implementation nationally.
Since the laws were gazetted in 2017, chiefs especially from Mzimba District in the Northern Region have openly denied embracing the Customary Land Act accusing it of usurping their powers to tradition customs.
“Let me ask you to be alert media, and bring out much needed narrative on what is ought to be done to perfect land administration in the country. Frequent coverage and analysis of land issues will not only keep us in check, but also inform the public, thereby enhancing the understanding of the new laws on the part of key stakeholders and the public,” Msukwa said
Speaking in a separate interview, Ministry of Lands Spokesperson, Charles Vintulla, confirmed of the reluctance by the traditional leadership in Mzimba District to embrace the new laws especially customary land.
Vintulla said Mzimba was initially targeted for pilot implementation of the project but this was changed and instead it was replaced by Rumphi District.
He further said Government is continuing with the engagement with the people in Mzimba and very soon they will be a very big all-inclusive meeting which has demanded by interested parties from Mzimba these include Mzimba Heritage Association, M’mbelwa Development Trust and M’mbelwa Investment Limited. They have requested ministry of land, ministry of local government and the office of the president and cabinet to come together about the issue of Mzimba so engagement is continuing.
The government is piloting the new land laws especially the Customary Law Act in six districts of the country with Rumphi and Karonga from the Northern Region.
Malawi has a total of ten land related laws that were gazetted in 2017.