Vincent Wandale, who is answering charges of criminal trespassing, unauthorised use of land and conspiracy to commit misdemeanour at Conforzi Plantations, has paraded Member of Parliament for Mulanje South, Bon Kalindo as his first witness.
There was a debate between the State and the defence on the legality of Kalindo to testify before the Magistrate’s Court in Blantyre, yesterday, since he has been listening to the proceedings.
The bone of contention was whether or not Kalindo could testify having followed the case in court.
The state, therefore, asked Senior Resident Magistrate, Thokozani Soko, to nullify Kalindo’s testimony.
Soko said sending witnesses outside is important and what happened with Kalindo was an anomaly. However, she allowed him to testify to ensure that the trial is fair.
During cross examination, Kalindo, who is the leader of Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje, a grouping that has been working with People’s Land Organisation in the fight for repossession of land owned by estates in Mulanje and Thyolo, told the court that they had meetings with President Peter Mutharika, Charles Mchacha, (Democratic Progressive Party Governor for the South), Lands Minister, Atupele Muluzi and Secretary for Lands, Ivy Luhanga, over the matter.
He disclosed that Mchacha promised that government would give them K500 million to share among people of the two districts but nothing materialised.
Kalindo also revealed that Mchacha and other officials decided that Wandale should no longer attend subsequent meetings claiming that Wandale was crazy.
For instance, on December 21, 2015, Kalindo said Mutharika called the two groups for a meeting to discuss the matter but prior to the meeting, Mchacha met Kalindo at Shire Highlands Hotel and warned him that he should not talk in the presence of the President at Sanjika Palace or risk forfeiting the promised money.
“We were about 40 people from Peoples Land Organisation and Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje, but Wandale was not present because he was deemed as a lunatic and that he smokes a lot of Indian Hemp. At that meeting, the President said he was among people who revolted against land grabbing by estates in Mulanje and Thyolo in 1954.
“Again after that meeting, I was told to go to the media to defame Wandale and tell Malawians to disregard him. I obeyed, although it was against my conscience because I am a politician and I was afraid of losing my job. But deep down, I knew that Wandale was fighting for a good cause and that he is brilliant and patriotic,” Kalindo said.
He further highlighted that the President told them to bargain so that they should drop other demands like land rentals and Thangata wages and instead focus on repossessing uncultivated land which the President said was committed to helping people of the two districts, to no avail.
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