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Chiefs counsel government on Land Bills

Chiefs in the Eastern Region have advised the government and other stakeholders to adopt a bottom-up approach of consulting the people before implementing decisions that will affect people’s lives, in order to avoid creating discontent among Malawians.

The chiefs spoke in Mangochi when the Ministry of Lands and Urban Development held a familiarisation meeting with the traditional leaders for the Eastern Region on the newly passed Customary Land Bill.

Speaking on behalf of other traditional leaders at the end of the meeting, Senior Chief Kawinga of Machinga said the government and other stakeholders face a lot of resistance when implementing some changes in the constitution as well as other crucial decisions because of lack of consultations.

“Today, we have been enlightened about the Land Bill and we are very happy that the bill has given back power to the chiefs and local people to own land as opposed to the initial arrangement when all land belonged to the president,” said Kawinga.

He added: “However, you [government] should learn to consult before implementing various decisions to avoid creating unnecessary tensions because our understanding is that if you had started with these consultations, there could not have been other people talking ill of the Land Bill,” Kawinga said.

He went on to ask government to conduct massive awareness campaigns to help local people understand the technicalities of the bill. Kawinga further suggested the need to publish the bill in local languages and distribute it to the people nationalwide as a means of familiarising it to the local masses.

In her remarks, Minister of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Patricia Kaliati, advised the chiefs to avoid abusing the law, now that land administration has been placed under their jurisdiction.

Minister of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Atupele Muluzi, said government will continue taking more land bills to Parliament in order to protect land as a crucial resource in development of any country.

“Most of our laws relating to land were adopted from the colonial powers. As government, we want to make our own laws that govern the use and administration of land in order to bring sanity in the land sector,” said Muluzi.

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