Traditional leaders on Wednesday marched to Parliament to present a petition that members of parliament should reverse the already assented Land Customary Law to allow further consultation.
Accompanied by self-proclaimed supreme leader of the so-called United States of Thyolo and Mulanje and Peoples’ Land Organisation (PLO), Vincent Group Village Headman (GVH) Somanda Makata of Blantyre and other chiefs representing all regions read a petition before opposition lawmakers and leader of opposition and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) president Lazarous Chakwera.
The traditional leaders said they are not happy over provisions in the Customary Land Bill which was passed by Parliament alongside other Land-related Bills.
They argued that government is trying to strip chiefs of their powers, especially over customary land.
But Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi argue that the land Bills are a hallmark of decentralisation as they reduce government interference over land matters since the Bills transfer powers to administer and manage land to the chiefs.
The chiefs warned those who will not listen to their demand to reverse the Customary Land Bill will be dealth with through recall during elections.
Senior Chief Kachindamoto of Dedza, said she is not amused with the Bill.
“Traditional leaders are the owners of the land, their chieftaincy history is enshrined in their land, it is their ancestors who first developed it,” she said.
Another chief said : “As custodians of the land we need to be consulted first.”
In his remarks, Wandale who was convicted by the court for inciting a crowd to invade Conforzi Tea Estate to share idle land, warned government against oppressing citizens over their land.
In his remarks, Chakwera told the chiefs that all opposition lawmakers came to received the petition because they learnt while in the House that the chiefs were brutalised by the law enforcers when they marched to Parliament.
“We all came to receive the petition as a mark of respect to the chiefs. We will ensure this matter is given due attention in the House,” said Chakwera.
Rumphi East MP Kamlepo Kalua raised the matter in the House telling the First Deputy Speaker Esther Mcheka Chilenje to adjourn so that they can receive the petition from chiefs who were facing police brutality outside parliament.
Chakwera supported Kalua’s request, saying the MPs were there to serve the chiefs and ordinary people.
But Leader of the House, George Chaponda rejected the request, saying the opposition were making false claims that chiefs were harassed.
This prompted Peoples Party leader in the House, Uladi Mussa and Aford’s lone MP Enock Chihana rising to call for House to be adjoiurned to receive the petition.
The all opposition MPs and some independents walked out except Lucius Banda, former vice president Khumbo Kachali and former MCP and now heading to DPP Felix Jumbe.
Lands Minister Muluzi explained that Customary land is defined as land held, used or occupied by the people communally, meaning that the land is not individually or privately owned.
“With the passing of the Land Bill and the Customary Land Bill, individuals in the local community will now have an opportunity to seek permission from the Traditional Authority of the area to register this land. This means that they can now be recognized as the private owners of the land.
“This will mean that 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 hrough their will or transmission. 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,” said Muluzi.
September this year, Mutharika assented the bill despite protrests from some Malawians.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :