Another demo on the cards for Thyolo and Mulanje peoples over land grievances

Malawi may soon earn a space in the Guinness Book of Records for organizing never-ending demonstrations for a month hardly passes without one non-governmental organization (NGO) or a group of concerned citizens taking to the streets to demand enjoyment of one right after the other.

Dissatisfied with the lukewarm approach to the land dispute between estate owners and natives, the Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has yet again organized demonstrations to force the government to address the grievances of the people of Thyolo and Mulanje over the long-standing issue.

Namiwa: Land issues must be sorted

The march is scheduled for this Thursday, June 17, 2021. In Thyolo, the marchers will start their peaceful demonstration from Khonjeni turnoff to the council offices; while in Mulanje, the protests will start from Nkhonya via Chitakale, to the council offices, where petitions will be delivered.

CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa, in a statement issued on Tuesday, said they have noted with great concern that the government has forgotten landless people in the two districts.

Namiwa says the demonstrations are also aimed at bringing to the attention of people that may care to listen, that Malawi is currently under land colonization since most of the land, including all the prime land, is in the hands of foreign nationals.

He adds that Thyolo and Mulanje are just a pointer to a land crisis in the country.

“Although Malawi received her independence from the British colonialists in 1964, the people of Thyolo and Mulanje districts have been under the yoke of colonization ever since, following the failure by all the six heads of state that have ruled the country, to correct the systematic error on the oppressive land laws and regulations inherited from the British, which were craftly drafted to protect the selfish interests of the oppressors.

“As you are reading this, the people of Thyolo and Mulanje districts are living in fear, and are more or less like half human beings, since the only fundamental natural resource that sustains life, was violently grabbed from their ancestors at gun point by the white settlers from Britain.

“We cannot begin to talk of basic rights to life and economic activities without tackling land issues!” reads part of the letter.

Namiwa alleges that some estate owners have resorted to sponsoring the Malawi Police Service (MPs) through the Blantyre, Thyolo, Luchenza and Khonjeni Police establishments, to skin alive innocent and unarmed citizens who are organized in groups, in an effort to make their voices heard, with the belief that this error could be corrected, once and for all.

He says scores of people have been injured and have been left with scars after sustaining serious injuries because of merciless beatings by the police while others are serving jail terms due to trumped up charges that were coined to protect the interests of the oppressors.

“Thousands of people are living in fear of the same police, whose mandate is to protect lives and property. Such very sad stories have prompted CDEDI to commence legal proceedings against the perpetrators, in their individual capacities!

“CDEDI is reminding President Dr. Lazarus Chakwera, and his Inspector General of Police, that Malawi is not a police state, hence our demands that the police should immediately stop unwarranted arrests, assault and victimization of the citizens whose only crime is demanding what is rightfully theirs,” says Namiwa in the letter.

CDEDI further condemns incidences of police brutality during the week that has just ended where the police arrested three minors in Mulanje, fired teargas, and assaulted innocent and unarmed people, mostly the elderly at Khonjeni, in Thyolo district.

Meanwhile, the organization has notified District Commissioners (DCs) of the two districts about the peaceful demonstrations in line with the requirement of the laws of Malawi.

CDEDI has appealed to Malawians from within and outside the country to join in the protests in solidarity with the people in Thyolo and Mulanje districts, who are fighting for justice.

Recently, the Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa appealed for patience among residents of the two districts, assuring that the government is taking steps to address their grievances.

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