Some disgruntled locals in southern districts of Thyolo and Mulanje have petitioned President Peter Mutharika and his Zimbabwean counterpart Robert Mugabe to intervene in the wrangle involving tea estate owners and locals in the two districts.
The petition, which is recognising Mugabe as African Union (AU) Chairperson, has also been copied to 13 Ambassadors and High Commissioners, all Thyolo and Mulanje parliamentarians, the Ministry of Lands, United Nations and the Word Bank.
The locals, under the banner of People’s Land Organisation (PLO) are asking these leaders to intervene in the wrangle in which they asking the tea estate owners to honour what they call “Thangata wages” and land rent payment claims.
PLO has been asking colonial estate owners to pay Thangata wages to descendants of Malawians who worked in the tea estates without being paid while the land rentals are for the current estate owners’ continued use of the land.
The local gave tea estate owners 14 days from Monday, February 9 to address their concerns or risking facing the wrath of the locals where “PLO shall consequently deploy its professional team of specialists to manage and direct the affairs of the concerned estate establishments as a major stakeholder with 70 percent of the shares”.
According to the petition, the said deployment of specialists shall include ordering the sharing of all the idle land in the concerned estate land inventory to the landless members of PLO so that they start building houses and cultivating during the current growing season.
Chief Secretary to Government George Mkondiwa told the Daily Times that a team of specialists recently went to the affected areas where they made their assessments and subsequently submitted reports to relevant authorities, including the Ministry of Lands.
However, National Coordinator for Landnet, Emmanuel Mlaka, noted that most land conflicts that have engulfed some parts of the country point to flaws and omissions in the current Land Act.
Mlaka claimed that the new land bills they are advocating will help Malawians have legitimate access to land and be properly compensated in cases where their land has been taken, among others.
Tea estate owners were not immediately available for comment.