Opposition legislators on Wednesday accused the government of punishing ordinary Malawians by introducing a fee on customary land.
Chairman of Natural Resources Committee Welani Chilenga withdrew all amendments he wanted to make to the Customary Land bill in protest against the government decision to refuse to remove the fee.
“This is very bizarre, how can the government introduce fees that will force ordinary indigenous Malawians pay for their own ancestral land,” said Chilenga .
Chilenga, who is also member of Parliament (MP) for Chitipa South (People’s Party-PP), said fter his last hope to force the government remove the fee was shattered following the opposition defeat in a roll call vote on the same.
He said it was surprising that the same government had removed fees for freehold land for tea estates and yet on the other hand it was slapping an ordinary poor Malawian with a fee on his or her own inherited ancestral land.
All opposition MPs were arms up against the fees on Wednesday. However Lands minister Atupele Muluzi said the opposition was twisting the matter deliberately for political reasons.
He said the fees introduced is “transaction”, whenever they want to register their piece of land.
“This is just a small processing fee if they want to register their land, it is not for rent or taxes, this fee will not even go to Account Number One of the central government, it will remain at the district level to help the same communities,” said Muluzi.
He disputed that tea estates will no longer pay rents and taxes.