Dust refuses to settle in the areas of Traditional Authorities (T/A) Ngowe, Masache and Ngabu in Chikwawa where the seven year old land dispute between the communities and former Cabinet Minister, Clement Khembo refuses to die.
Armed with panga knives, hoes and placards some of which read ‘the land belongs to us; we will not allow anyone to grab our land’; members of the community held an impromptu meeting on the 1584 hectares of land which was allocated to Khembo in November 2011 by the late Chief Ngowe whose real name is Wilson Chinkono to cultivate sugarcane and also build a sugar factory.
Addressing the multitude during their meeting, Chairperson for the Pastors’ Fraternal in Chikwawa South Constituency, who is also a Pastor for the Christian Apostolic Church of God, Pastor Lapson Mbewe, said it was quite surprising that the former Cabinet Minister was trying to grab the land from the people despite a 2014 High Court ruling in Blantyre favoring the communities.
“We are quite surprised that Khembo still says he owns this land and that he got lease documents from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development. We are following a court ruling which said we (communities) are owners of this land,” he said.
Moreover, Mbewe said communities expect to further benefit from the land which government earmarked to introduce an irrigation project.
According to the pastor, the land is not currently idle as others are putting it but communities are using it for farming and grazing among other things.
Mbewe revealed that they have obtained a court injunction from the High Court in Lilongwe restraining Khembo from leasing the land.
He urged communities involved in the land dispute not to indulge in any violent activities saying God will fight for them.
When contacted, Traditional Authority (T/A) Ngowe whose area covers a larger part of the land under contention said following the last court ruling in Blantyre, Khembo has no place in the area and that the land belongs to the people.
“When I was sworn in as a chief of the area few months ago, I found this issue and my understanding from the last high court ruling in Blantyre is that Khembo does not own land in my area. The land is for the people and it belongs to the people,” said the T/A.
When contacted, Khembo said he has not yet received the injunction but what he knows is that government gave him the land some three years ago and he will answer during the appropriate time.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :