Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has come out to clear the mist over four land-related Bills passed in parliament: Land Bill, Physical Planning Bill, Land Survey Bill and Customary Land Bill.
The opposition expressed worry at the way the Land Bill was rushed through Parliament which forced the MPs to walk out.
And the Customary Land Bill has also caused concern among chiefs who fear that it will take away the authority they have over land.
But Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi explained that in terms of the current Land Act, customary land is defined as land held, used or occupied by the people communally meaning that the land is not individually or privately owned.
“In its current status, customary land cannot be used as security to obtain a loan from the bank. When government is acquiring such land for public use, compensation is not paid for the land itself because it is considered as having no value.
“With the passing of the Land Bill and the Customary Land Bill, individuals in the local community will now have an opportunity to register this land. This means that they will be recognised as the private owners of the land,” Muluzi explained to Nyasa Times.
He said now individuals will then be able to use this land as security for obtaining a loan from the bank.
“The owner will also be able to lease or sublease their land or transfer ownership through their will or transmission.”
And in a statement, Secretary of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Ivy Luhanga explained that another key change is that young people and women can also be registered as owners of the land in their own right, meaning that widows can now have security.
“These changes will all come into force once the Registered Land (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been enacted, which will be later this year. Such registration shall only be affected after the approval of the application by the respective Land Committees and the Traditional Authorities. These Land Committees will be chaired by Group Village Headmen,” the ministry clarified.
“The initial registration of customary estates will be completed and will be covered by the Government. However, subsequent transactional costs will then need to be met by the landowners. These transactions will include the registration fees for the transfer of the customary estates, leases and subleases. These fees should be payable by the person who is buying the customary estate. The owner of the customary estate will also be requested to pay fees for the sub division of any land. The owners will also be liable for any capital gains tax that results from these transactions,” said the statement.
The ministry said the implementation strategy was developed in line with the initial Land Reform Programme that was passed in 2003 as part of the 2002 Malawi National Land Policy.
“However, with changes in law and access to new technologies, we are now in a period of review such that we can ensure that these reforms are implemented in the most efficient ways possible. This includes taking lessons from other countries that have gone through this process,” reads the statement.
The strategy, according to the ministry, includes the establishment of an Inter – Ministerial Steering Committee comprising all relevant ministries.
They have also established a sector working group on Land Governance comprising members of government, civil society and supporting partners to oversee the implementation of the land reforms and ensure that all stakeholders have an opportunity to support the implementation strategy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :