Zamba summons MHC and LCC senior managers, threatens them with dismissals for refusing to regularize encroached land at Area 43

Senior managers at the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) and Lilongwe City Council risk losing their jobs for disregarding a directive from Dr. Colleen Zamba, to regularize the land she encroached at Sector 8 of Area 43 in Lilongwe.

Zamba is pushing for the regularization of the five plots she illegally acquired on MHC land. Other notable figures being mentioned in the documents as encroachers include Vincent Nyirongo, David Kuthyola, Professor Mustapha Hussein (a lecturer at the University of Malawi).

Following the publication of the story by Nyasa Times about Zamba’s involvement in land encroachment, a horde of impeccable sources at both MHC and LCC have been calling to give an account on the tactics Zamba, who is the Head of Presidential Delivery Unit and Chief Advisor to the President on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and International Affairs in State House, has employed to get her desired wish granted.

Dr. Colleen Zamba

Nyasa Times has been reliably informed that Zamba, just a few days before Christmas last year, summoned high-ranking officials from such as MHC Regional Manager for the Centre, a Mezalumo, and LCC Chief Executive Officer, John Chome, to her office where she rebuked them “for protecting with genuine landowners at the expense of her.”

“She warned us that we would lose our jobs if we continue resisting to implement what she had directed us to do. But we stood our ground to the extent that tempers flared in the office,” said one of the officials that attended the meeting.

Zamba was reportedly accompanied by Mr Daniel Ikuenobe, Nigerian national working as Malawi Country Director of the Tony Blair Institute.

Despite being two months old in Malawi then, Mr Ikuenobe scolded the MHC and LCC officials “for disobeying a presidential advisor.”

“We couldn’t believe that someone, who has been in the country for less then two months, could be shouting at us as if we are his employees. At this point, we challenged them to do anything they saw fit because we were not ready to move an inch on the matter,” corroborated another participant at the meeting.

Meanwhile, MHC has written the Office of the Attorney General (AG), seeking legal opinion on the matter.

AG Thabo Chakaka Nyirenda confirmed receipt of the letter in an interview on Friday.

He, however, refused to divulge more information.

MHC allocated the plots in question to “genuine applicants” who are now protesting Zamba’s attempts to overtake them.

Zamba could neither confirm nor deny the allegations the plot owners are levelling against her.

The plot owners, who are calling themselves Concerned Citizens, are further accusing the Director of Presidential Delivery Unit and Chief Advisor to the President on SDGs and International Affairs in State House of using her political influence to push MHC to regularize the encroached land.

Recently, a group of individuals who claim to have bought land from VH Chatata took MHC to court over ownership of the stretch of land, which is is legally under the authority of the corporation as enshrined in the gazetted urban structure plans/ work plans/SDs at the Ministry of Lands and designated as public land since 1968.

The Civil Cause in question was between the corporation and Maxwel Mangani, Hastings Chipongwe, Madalitso Nthalika, Monica Manda, Cecilia Aipira and Chris Malira representing a group of other individuals.

The corporation successfully defended its ownership of the said land in the court. However, it is reported that Zamba has defied the court order to vacate the land and is, instead, pushing for its regularization much to the disadvantage of the people who duly applied for and where allocated the plots.

Nyasa Times understands that following a lawsuit in the Civil Division at the Lilongwe District Registry in a Miscellaneous Civil Cause Number 62 of 2018 (before Justice Mkandawire in the high Court of Malawi), the court issued a judgement on 29th day of April 2019 whereby the court held that since 1968, the land is under the control of Malawi Housing Corporation.

The individuals attempted to appeal the case at the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal and on account of the absence of the legal representative of the MHC during the appeal hearing at that material point in time a default judgement was passed in 2020 in favour of the respondents.

However, following a fresh application of the Malawi Housing Corporation, the High Court sustained the Judgement issued in the Matter on 29th April 2019, whereby the court held that the land in question is public land since 1968 and is currently under the MHC.

On account of the ruling, the court ordered all the respondents therein to stop any activities on the said land.

An enforcement order was therefore issued on 12th October 2021 directing the Sherrif of Malawi to take possession of the said land from any person doing any activities on the Land without authorization of Malawi Housing Corporation and deliver the land to the Malawi Housing Corporation in accordance with the Law.

According to the court order in our possession, the enforcement order of the said ruling was received and signed by Mr David Kuthyola on behalf of the respondents on 1st November 2021.

“Having noted that they do not hold any legal title ownership of the land in question, the encroachers concluded that the only way to do so is to obtain authorization from the Malawi Housing Corporation. The encroachers attempted to ambush the Board and the Management of the Malawi Housing Corporation during a formal project presentation meeting held in December 2021 where the Board and the Management were threatened under the guise of political power to force the corporation to regularize the said plots into the names of the encroachers,” said a source among the Concerned Citizens.

“In a clear show of defiance of the referenced court order the encroachers continue to cause commotion and violence on the allocated plots and have on several occasions disrupted ongoing construction works by bonafide title holders of the land in addition to disturbing security services being provided by the personnel of the corporation as well as the Malawi Police Service. It is therefore high time that any person or entity who is in defiance of the court order referenced in this article or any legal provisions theirin should either desist from this malpractice or face the arm of the law,” he added while pleading for anonymity.

Several attempts to get Zamba’s reaction hit a snag, as the Presidential Advisor did not pick our phone calls neither did she respond to our questionnaire sent to her through her WhatsApp number.

She simply gave us ‘blue ticks’ to show that she had read our text messages.

Meanwhile, the Concerned Citizens have threatened to commence legal action against Zamba if she continues undermining the court order restraining her and her friends from developing the land she encroached.

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