Winiko, tea growers differ on Mulanje land grab

Disagreements have ensued between Mulanje district concerned citizens and National Smallholder Tea Development Committee (NSTDC) over demands to confiscate land from some tea estates and redistribute it to communities.

Comedian Bon Kalindo popularly known as Winiko is leading the concerned citizens, demanding authorities to reclaim ‘idle land’ in some tea estates in the district and redistribute it to community members.

In an interview with Nyasa Times, Kalindo said he is determined to  fight for the plight of poor people in the district who don’t have land to cultivate.

Kalindo: Land redistribution is the way to go
Kalindo: Land redistribution is the way to go

Kalindo said there was nothing wrong in reclaiming the said land, arguing “After all, the move will benefit the local people who are the actual owners of this land.”

“There are two conditions. One the estate owners should increase wages for their workers and secondly they should give out land currently idle to those who don’t have any place to stay or farm. We will not relent until our wishes are upheld,” challenged Kalindo.

However, NSTDC secretary Wilfred Kasitomu described Kalindo’s motives as chaotic, which will greatly affect the smallholder tea growers who sell their produce to some of the main tea estates in the district.

“Think of the farmers who are depending on such tea estates for market. And what about those people who are employed by the same tea estates, will he employ them if they happen to lose their jobs? Seriously, his ideas have more implications we cannot afford to bear,” Kasitomu said.

On Tuesday NSTDC presented a petition to Mulanje District Commissioner to intervene and resolve the issue amicably.

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