The impunity with which officials at Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development are setting up the taxpayer for an expensive legal battle by reversing legally binding agreement is cause for concern over the leader at the ministry.
Acting Commissioner for Lands, Euphemia Bota, is reported calling land owners to a meeting checking their legal documents and then after that sending them letters which are backdated stating that “government through the Minister responsible for Land Matters intends to acquire the land” back.
In the letters Bota claimed that the ministry allocated the plots “erroneously”, therefore stating that “the plots are being acquired back to government for public interest.”
Bota states land owners will either be paid back the money for the development charges or be given a replacement plot.
But Bota told Nyasa Times in a telephone interview on Friday that the letters were not backdated.
“We wrote them long time ago but we did not have the stamps to send them. So I was instructed by the Ministry that the officers should deliver by hand ,” she said.
“What is important is that the notice of entry starts from the date of delivery,” she added.
The development also comes after the ministry is reversing a legally binding agreement between an investor and the Malawi Government for development of police infrastructure.—to be built by contractor World Wide Construction Limited— which includes 140 new police staff houses and an office complex with 24 offices at Area 30 in three phases.
Wadi & Associates, lawyers for the project who are specialist Attorneys in Construction Contracts and Land Law said the negotiations for the deal took very long to ensure compliance with all legal requirements as well as standards and specifications of the buildings.
The Attorneys also mentioned that the “construction in exchange of land project” involved an aspect of public disposal and Section 38(2) (c) of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act was duly complied.
The discussions took long as it involved various stakeholders and discussed at length as to the requirements of MPS, what was expected to be built and the architect and engineers had to translate that into drawings with standards and specifications which again had to be vetted by all the Parties. The entire process was vigorous and conducted in an open and transparent manner. Technocrats and professionals were given opportunity to give their input. Three lawyers, two of whom were from MPS, translated the issues into an MOU and an agreement which was also fine-tuned by the Ministry of Justice.
Despite the existing land legislations on proper land management, governance and best practices, land ownership conflicts in Malawi continue to rise.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairperson Gift Trapence said the best way government can deal with land issues is through a fair and comprehensive land audit.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :