The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) in collaboration with the Concerned Landless People in Thyolo and Mulanje have given the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development up to March 23, 2021, to distribute idle land to the landless people in the two districts.
CDEDI executive director Sylvester Namiwa has written Msukwa, reminding the minister about the commitments he reportedly made during a meeting he convened at Thyolo Boma on Friday, 19th February 2021.
It is further reported that President Lazarus Chakwera sanctioned the meeting in reaction to the letter CDEDI wrote him on December 7, 2020.
In his response, Chakwera directed Msukwa to link up with CDEDI and other stakeholders on the way forward.
The President’s response, which was dated January 14, 2021, was an acknowledgement that he is aware about the land crisis and tragedy in Thyolo and Mulanje districts; hence, the need to act on this seemingly ticking bomb with speed and the urgency it deserves.
But with time passing, Namiwa and the Concerned Landless People in Thyolo and Mulanje feel the government is not doing enough to address their grievances.
“You may wish to recall, Honourable Minister that we agreed in our telephone conversation that you had wanted to have first-hand impression of the situation on the ground by sparing your time to inspect the vast idle land that is owned by the estate owners, and interact with the affected people in the two districts. CDEDI was shocked and disappointed, however, with your sudden change of heart when you instead opted to inspect tea plantations at the Thyolo Boma thereby ignoring the earlier plan. This is the reason why CDEDI participated in the meeting under protest,” reads the letter CDEDI has written to the minister.
Namiwa argues that since the land issue is not new, they did not expect that leaders in Thyolo and Mulanje could stand on a moral high ground and dispute it.
He says people of Thyolo and Mulanje districts are living with a wound and each passing day, the pain is becoming very hard to endure.
“They needed justice like yesterday, hence CDEDI’s insistence during the meeting that we needed a communiqué with clear timelines. To our surprise the meeting ended with literary nothing to refer to in the future. Nonetheless, we were assured of some action when in your own words said you were rushing to meet the estate owners that very same day! This means as per your own promise, you are remaining with Chiefs and Political party leaders to meet in order to round up the consultative meeting,” he says.
“Since we all agreed in that meeting that we have a very big problem in the two districts, we would like to believe that if you were able to meet two groups of stakeholders in a single day, it won’t be a challenge to meet the second and last set of stakeholders within seven days and call for an all-inclusive stakeholders meeting in another seven days and come up with solutions in the preceding fourteen days. It is against this background that CDEDI and the concerned landless people in Thyolo and Mulanje districts are giving you twenty-eight (28) days from the day this letter is delivered, to do all you can to ensure that all the idle land has been given back to the rightful owners. Once this exercise has been accomplished, the next item on the agenda will be to engage in yet another consultative process where the estate owners should make arrangements to ensure that part of the tea, coffee, tung and macadamia plantations are managed by the locals, while the estate owners should concentrate on buying and processing these cash crops,” submits Namiwa.
He ends his letter by informing the minister that there is growing insurgency on the landless people in Thyolo and Mulanje since they feel like they are foreigners in their own land and they have waited for unnecessarily longer before justice is served on the matter.
Msukwa could not be reached on his mobile phone as he was reportedly in Parliament where network connectivity is erratic.