Chief M’mbelwa blames Raiply Malawi Ltd for forest plunder

Paramount Chief M’mbelwa V of Mzimba District has piled the blame of encroachment and plundering of resources in Viphya Plantation on Raiply Company Limited’s tendency to sideline communities around the man-made forest.

M’mbelwa V with his Impi. Raiply does not recognize indigenous members of the community

M’mbelwa made the open remarks Thursday during a tree-planting exercise at Elephant Rock to mark the official closure of Raiply’s tree planting season.

He said some people surrounding the protected forest reserve carry out illegal activities such as wanton cutting down of trees and setting harmful bush fires out of frustration because they see no benefit from the entity they have, for long, taken care of as their own property.

“It seems the company [Raiply] does not recognize indigenous members of the community who have for years taken responsibility to ensure safety of the plantation,” M’mbelwa said.

The Ngoni chief argued that besides lack of direct access to benefits from forest products, people around the company (Raiply) are hit by unemployment challenges because the company opts to hire people from other districts and beyond.

“We have graduates with competitive education in the communities around this forest but none of them have easy access to jobs offered by the company operating on their door steps,” he said.

M’mbelwa said, however, he does not condone encroachers, vandals and those who demonstrate their wrath and frustration by setting devastating bush fires on the forest.

He said it was sad to see the once evergreen plantation, which was a pride of the Northern Region due to its beautiful scenery, absolutely bare due to harmful activities.

He said no one can condone plundering of our own forest resources at will because everybody needs the trees for different reasons.

The Paramount Chief, however, insisted: “It is a reality that no one would feel comfortable and watch from the laurels as people from far have a lion’s share of a precious home property like the forest reserve.”

M’mbelwa’s observation sparked reaction from Senior Chief Kabunduli of Nkhata Bay District who concurred with the Ngoni chief.

Kabunduli, whose area is part of the Viphya Plantation, appealed to Raiply to pluck a leaf from Vizala Rubber Company where rubber trees are “always safe because the plantation is absolutely in the hands of communities.”

“You will not hear any form of deforestation or vandalism at Vizala Rubber Plantation because it belongs to members of the communities who enjoy its benefits,” Kabunduli said.

The Senior Chief explained that a bigger percentage of people hired for the jobs by the company (Vizala Rubber Plantation), depending on qualifications, come from communities around the plantation and are seriously vetted by local leaders.

He said members of the communities are able to access plantation products such as fire wood and latex fluid used to make plastic footballs and netballs for kids which are sold to boost household income levels.

“All traditional leaders around the plantation are salaried, besides the opportunity to willfully use the company cars to help in times of sicknesses and funerals, which cannot happen with Raiply,” challenged Kabunduli.

However, Raiply is on record as having been engaged in a number of social responsibility activities such as donation of desks and other facilities in schools around the plantation over the years.

During the exercise, 53 000 trees were planted.

The annual tree planting exercise is meant to replenish the trees that have been harvested by the factory as well as to rehabilitate degraded areas due to deforestation.

Raiply Malawi Limited belongs to a group of companies that operate in Eastern and Southern African countries with their headquarters in Kenya. It has more than 1, 400 employees in Malawi.

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Listone Zungu
Bravo! Bravo! Your Royal Highness, Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa v for an excellent speech. The speech emphasized how BEST the forest would be conserved, and not to sow seeds of division as some seem to interpret it.The gist of the matter is that the forest has been there before the company came. The people being sidelined today did all they could to bring it to it’s glory. Sidelining such people is one of the causes of the challenge associated with depleting the forest. Hence, the tip to the company on ways of solving the issues locking the forest. His Nkhata-Bay… Read more »
Yohane Longwe

Aaaa Majolija you say Thyolo and Mulanje estates are full of people from tumbukaland?that is not true for the people from Northern region to be in the estates, but you there from the south to be in our estates here in the north.

The chief has spoken but can this be taken seriously? Or it is one those events that you can atleast simply say something ?But he is right on the part of sidelining the communities surrounding the plantations,ihope if this kind of thinking is supported by those who make policies things will change .Communities and Malawians should be taken seriously by those in authority ,it is very painful to see people from far,I mean the foreigners can manipulate the whole system and at the end the day locals are to be blamed for everything bad that is happening in the forest,… Read more »

congulation chief u said true to us Malawians

Pan African
This is a tip of iceberg. I second the Chief Mbelwa, as Malawians we need to introspect on foreign investors coming to plunder our beloved Malawi. 85% of our commerce is in the hand of Asians who’re remitting forex to the countries of origins & our so called governments continue habour unwanted perpetrators. We have our beloved sons & daughters who are graduates, deprived of opportunities as their birth right. Our graduates can set up consortiums to ran factories with forest concessions. The brain drain comes in the absence of leadership crisis hence our beloved children in diaspora longing to… Read more »

The forest was destroyed by Bingu and Muli

I sincerely take this statement: “the company opts to hire people from other districts and beyond” not those from Mzimba as insensitive and an act of promoting xenophobia. It is also something not worth coming from a Paramount Chief……………………………..! Instead he would have just encouraged the company to be employing a lot of casual labourers from the surrounding area, basiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sincerely the Chief has demonstrated to be someone who is not comfortable to see people from other districts in his area and this is dangerous coming from a leader because it can attract reciprocal action from his counter parts in… Read more »

Atumbuka ndi anthu osokoneza komanso odzikonda kwambiri. Ma estate onse ku Thyolo and MJ are full of pipo from tumbukaland but you have never heard Ngolongoliwa get on a podium and speak such rubbish


Bro.. these are facts.. if we are to reafforest our lost forest.. govt or companies shd actively involve pple sorrounding areas.. I like the way pple of Mulanje are behaving to ensure replacement.. similary pple in Nkhatabay around Vizala.. I suggested said in the past that if we are to replace our forest.. let us emulate what pple in NB are doing.. otherwise we are/will continue crying coz the effects of deforrestation


Kobe honest I am not surprised with such divisive utterances from a chief. They all have taken a queue from the head of state. Always preaching politics of divisiveness and blame. However, I would like to say to the chief that the problem of with Malawi is that no one is respecting the law including those holding the high office. The whole country has degenerated into chaos with no respect or fear for the law. You can see the behaviour of those in public and corporate offices. Everyone seem to be ok with corruption either as a corruptee or corruptor.

To be honest I am not surprised that a whole paramount chief of a respected clans uttering divisive language. He like everyone else, has taken a queue from the head of state. Always preaching politics of divisiveness and blame. However, I would like to say to the chief; the problem with Malawi is that no one is respecting the law, including those holding high office. The whole country has degenerated into chaos, with no respect or fear for the justice system. You can see the behaviour of those in public and corporate offices. Everybody seem to be ok with corruption… Read more »

Kyungu uveko fundo zamafumu a anthu


Indeed its true these companies sideline the local community .i would love your majesty Chief Mbelwa to take a leading role with your subjects by calling on the parties concerned to employ our youths or even rent the people around the area piece of land to plant trees for sale to Raiply .


I thought the forests were largely cleared by Muli and Malemu Bingu with his “anthu osazikonda” Mulhakhos

Dipipi wa Yudiefu

Peter Muthalika and Mulli actually lived there at one time kunyeza matabwa. You may not believe it but this is true.

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