People of tea growing district of Thyolo and mountainous district of Mulanje have said they will press for declaration of the two districts as a sovereign State if their protracted wrangle with tea estate owners is not resolved, it has been reported.
According to published report, 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 country .
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.
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.
President Peter Mutharika intervened in the matter in October when he summoned the leadership of PLO for a closed-door meeting at Sanjika Palace in Blantyre to discuss the matter.
Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje (CPM) led by member of parliament Bon Kalindo, who also support the cause, also met President Mutharika on the matter.
Kalindo has been mobilizing the people of tea growing district of Thyolo to stand up against commercial land owners and occupy the land which he argues “rightfully belongs to them.”
“People of Thyolo and Mulanje were robbed of their land and have been suffering in their own country to accommodate exploiters,” said Kalindo.
PLO leader Vincent Wandale has said Malawi Government as well as President Mutharika have failed to resolve the matter and will now seek declaration of the two districts to be a stand alone state-nation.