Barely a week before government in conjunction with LandNet Malawi starts applying the newly enacted land law; Inkosi Mpherembe of Mzimba District says the law is not suitable for communities that practice patrilineal culture.
The newly enacted land law, among other things, seeks to empower women to own land and have it registered in their own names.
Speaking in an intervie, Inkosi Mpherembe, said in his Ngoni culture women are controlled and supported by men in all endeavours; therefore, no need for them (women) to register land on their own.
“I don’t know what it means to empower women because as far as Ngoni tradition is concerned, they are already empowered; they are part of the husband, accessing the land that the husband is working on. If a woman is married to me, she has access to the same land that I have, full stop!” said the Inkosi.
He continued: “Let me give you an example; if my sister would like to have a piece of land for whatever purpose, it’s my duty to share with her my piece of land because she is my own blood. If I don’t, where will she go?”
Under the new land law, the governance and administration of land will be shifted from customary to statutory so that there should be no difference whether you are coming from patrilineal or matrilineal culture.
Inkosi Mpherembe however said anyone in Mzimba including women owns land even if they go and marry somewhere; their land always remains theirs.
“The best is for us to use the available land collectively as a family. We don’t have any problem of land issues here in Mzimba, maybe this newly enacted land law can be applicable and applied elsewhere not here,” he said.
However, a chairperson of one the mother groups in the area (name withheld) said the newly enacted law has come at the right time when many women lose property including land, especially when their husbands die.
“This new law will assist many women in the country to do their own things including farming and construction of houses comfortably, knowing that no one can tamper with them,” she said.
Commenting on the matter, Coordinator for LandNet Malawi, Emmanuel Mlaka, said he was aware that many traditional chiefs in the country are not happy with the newly enacted law.
“Let me say this, they are chiefs because they have got people and those people are theirs because they are alive. If there is any chief who does not care about the livelihood of his people, then he is not prepared to be a chief,” Mlaka said.
He said this land law will among other things strengthen access to food and for this to happen people including women must have access to land.
Government in conjunction with LandNet will start implementing the land law in a pilot phase in three districts of Mzimba in the area of Inkosi Mpherembe, Kasungu in area of Senior Chief Lukwa and in Phalombe.
LandNet Malawi is a network of at least 40 Civil Society Organisations that advocate for pro-poor and equitable land and natural resources policies, legislation and decision making processes that enhance livelihoods and sustainable utilization of natural resources.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :