Controversy over Must land
There is controversy over the ownership of land on which Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) was built as some reports indicate the land is still under Bineth Trust.
The revelation was made by Member of Parliament (MP) for Mzimba North Yeremiah Chihana during Tchutchutchu programme on Times Television (TTV).
Chihana claimed the university land is currently owned by President Peter Mutharika and his niece Duwa after the death of the initial owner former president Bingu Wa Mutharika.
The late Wa Mutharika was brother to Peter and father to Duwa.
Chihana’s revelation concurred with investigations carried out by Malawi News in February which established that Must was built on a piece of land between plot number 61313,50/89 and plot 61313,51/89 Thyolo in the privately-owned Ndata Farm.
The farm was allegedly donated to government by the former president to realise his dream of having the institution in the district.
According to documents which we have seen, Bineth Trust has not yet transferred the land from privately-owned to public.
Ten years after the land was donated to the public university, the land is still registered under Bineth Trust whose sore signatories are President Peter Mutharika and Bingu’s daughter Duwa Mutharika.
When confronted about the ownership of the land earlier this year, government spokesperson Mark Botomani referred us to the registrar of the university.
However, Friday Botomani, issued a press release saying the land on which the university was built is owned by government as defined by an Act of Parliament which represents all people of Malawi.
“Government has taken note of the blatant and politically-driven lies spread by Honourable Yeremiah Chihana, Member of Parliament for Mzimba North, about the ownership of Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must). Featuring on Tchutchutchu Programme on Times TV, Honourable Chihana lied to the world that the University is owned by President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika’s family.
“Government, therefore, wishes to put the record straight as follows: The University was established by an Act of Parliament Number 31 of 2012 which means that its ownership is defined by the Act which represents all people of Malawi. The legitimate owner of MUST is the Government of Malawi,” Botomani said.
According to Botomani, the former president donated part of his Ndata Farm to the Government of Malawi as the proposed site for the construction of the university.
Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe said it is unfortunate that the current president has not acted on this issue six years into office.
According to Kondowe, it is strange that after so many years the piece of land where the university was built has not been transferred to government.
“It is on record that the former president had made it public that he donated that piece of land where Must has been constructed for the benefit of Malawians.
“Our worry is that time will come when the relations of the deceased would demand huge sums of money by way of selling the same piece of land which was initially publicly communicated as having been donated to government. Legally, government cannot claim the land. This is the matter that needs to be expeditiously resolved otherwise it does not paint a good picture,” Kondowe said.
Ndata Farm, whose title deed is 79123, sits on 980 hectares of farm land in Traditional Authority Chimaliro in Thyolo district. The farm was first registered on January 27, 1998 at the Registrar General’s office as company number 4945 of P.O. Box 80054, Blantyre 8, with physical administrative address being Trade Fair Stand number 34.
In 1998, the farm was registered with initial capital of K250,000 and under four Directors Fredson Lawrence Mambiya of P.O. Box 80054, Blantyre 8, Fenneck Nelson Gunda of P.O. Box1639, Blantyre, Lodewick Ferreira of P.O. Box 5171, Limbe and John Willy Ntodwa, Company Secretary of P.O. Box 80054, Blantyre 8.
Ndata Farm 1998 Limited at inception obtained a loan of K6 million from Malawi Development Corporation (MDC) as working capital.
The university campus at Ndata was constructed with a loan from the Chinese government pegged at $85 million Together with the National stadium in Lilongwe at $65 million.