Member of Parliament, Bon Kalindo, who leads Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje (CPM) which is supporting the cause for Thyolo and Mulanje people’s occupation of all idle land owned by tea estates, has exonerated his group from calls of declaring the two districts a sovereign State.
Members of the People’s Land Organisation (PLO) have set December 17 2015 as the deadline to resolve the matter or else the two districts will form their own State.
PLO leader Vincent Wandale has said Malawi Government as well as President Peter Mutharika have failed to resolve the matter and will now seek declaration of the two districts to be a standalone state-nation.
But Kalindo in a telephone interview with Nyasa Times on Wednesday dismissed the calls by PLO, saying Wandale “is now taking things too personal.”
He said President Mutharika summoned his group and PLO members at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre to discuss the long-standing land wrangle between communities and tea estate owners in populous Thyolo and Mulanje districts where most of the arable land is taken up by tea estates.
“The President intervened and took responsibility to discuss with tea estate owners on how to address people’s concern. This is not an issue of land grabbing hence we leave it with the First Citizen to help us resolve the issue,” said Kalindo.
He dismissed Wandale’s calls for Thyolo and Mulanje to be declared a state-nation, saying such calls are “unhelpful” and “senseless.”
Kalindo said PLO should desist from inciting people of tea growing districts of Thyolo and Mulanje to stand up against commercial land owners and grab the land.
“We want people from the two districts to be helped and the President assured that he will intervene. He laid out measurers to help the people not only by asking estate owners to give up idle land but also give the people some economic empowerment packages and development projects so that they do not only rely on land,” said Kalindo.
He dismisses sovereign state calls as “divisive” and said it is uncalled for.
“We should not advocate for arbitrary takeover of land. The President does not want that,” he said.
PLO demands local people’s occupation of all idle land on top of demanding estates owners to pay £65 (about K53 000) per acre per year for all used colonial estate land from 1914.
The organisation has also been demanding from the estates owners a wage rate of £6.13 per hour (about K5000) per individual for those who were involved in Thangata (bonded labour) between 1914 and 1963.
Malawi’s tea industry, started by colonial masters in the 1800s, occupies thousands of hectares believed to have been grabbed from natives. The industry is also one of the most productive in the world.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :