Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, has advised communities around Nkhozo in Rumphi that President Lazarus Chakwera will weigh in to find a lasting solution to the land dispute owned by Exagris Africa Invest Limited.
The 1100 hectares estate was recently sold to a British owned company called Tropha Estates Limited for K1.5 billion, a development that irked the communities struggling for good farm land triggering questions of ownership.
Msukwa’s intervention has seen a series of community dialogue meetings but achieved nothing prompting a presidential referral.
“The main purpose of the meeting was to continue with the dialogue that we have been having concerning Nkhozo Estate sale to Tropha. As Malawians may know, Africa Invest [Exagris] has an estate here at Nkhozo and they intend to sell it.
“The communities here do not want the sale to proceed. They want the land to be given back to them. So, I thought I should come here and engage them.
“This is our third engagement and in a way, it is a stalemate. But there is somewhere we can start from. The next step is that I have to take it up with other MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) so that when we report to the Head of State, it has to include a technical view,” he said.
Msukwa, who was accompanied by Principal Secretary for Lands Bernard Sande, also said he would engage the owner of the estate to see how best the issue can be handled.
On his part, Acting Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, asked communities in the area to remain calm and wait for feedback from the President.
Speaking on behalf of affected community members from Nkhozo, Group Village Headman Taona Gondwe urged government to find a solution that would cater for the interests of its people not foreigners who have come and gone with nothing to show in the area by way of development and continuity.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition representative, Moir Walita, also asked government to get to the root of the problem so that it may be addressed smoothly.
The land in question used to be customary before government took control with consent of the then leaders in the area.
Some of them were compensated over the same, according to records. The land then changed to public and was later sold to Africa Invest Malawi Limited.
Nkhozo Estate land spans 2500 hectares in size but has changed ownership numerous times as below:
The land, which has been occupied by five companies since government sold it in 1977, currently belongs to Africa Invest Malawi Limited and is registered under deed number 81955. The company wants to sell it to Tropha at K1.5 billion.
Controversy arose on December 11 2020 when the company published in the local press that it’s intention was to sell the land to some foreign nationals, prompting communities to petition government on the same.
In 1971 – Customary land was snatched by late Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda under Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as Nkhozo Estate under General Notice 383 of 1971 with Deed registration number 38224.
In 1977 – Spearhead Holdings (Enterprises) Limited under a directive by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In 1987 – Kawalazi Estates Company paid K660 000 consideration to become the new owners under Deed registration number 59509.
In 1996 – Impala Farming Company Limited paid K1.8 million to become the new owners.
In 2000 – A company called Nkhozo Investments Limited became new owners after paying US$200 000 under Deed registration number 77429.
In 2007 – Africa Invest Malawi Limited founded by a charismatic founder John Maguire paid GP£400, 000 (British pounds) for the estate and registered under Deed number 81955.
In 2010 – Exagris Africa Limited bought the estate for GP£175,000 (British pounds) for the estate after the Fund backing the operation had run into troubles.
In 2021 – Tropha Estates Limited, a subsidiary of Jacoma Estates Limited of United Kingdom backed by institutional investors such as Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC Group), AgDevCo, African Agriculture Capital Fund, Pearl Capital Partners among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :