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HRDC takes on politicians over government land grab

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KASUNDA—Cear took the matter to court

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has accused politicians from the previous regime of alleged dubious acquisition of land across the country.

According to a letter that we have seen from the coalition to the Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB) copied to the Ministry of Lands, HRDC has cited about three cases of the land grab in question.

In an interview with Malawi News, HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence authenticated the letter, arguing this is part of their whistle blowing initiative which has been going on for some time since the regime change.

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“We have received allegations that Plots 1036 to 1040 Limbe East (near Railways) were corruptly awarded to an individual in Limbe. It is further alleged that Deed Plan No. 170/09 was forged.

“We have also received allegations that a farm, located along the road after the bridge on the right as you go to Ntaja, was donated to Machinga District Council. It is further alleged that a political heavyweight snatched the farm from the council without paying anything. We have also received allegations that a Guest House belonging to Ministry of Works in Chimaliro, Mzuzu was snatched by a politician without paying for it. We have also received allegations that Mbowe Dam, which was built as part of the Viphya Plantation Concession Plan in the Lusangazi Forest, has also been snatched by a politician without paying for it,” reads part of the letter.

Recently, Central East African Railways (Cear) logged a complaint with the Blantyre City Council over reports the company had received, regarding intention of expropriation of land and trespassing on land belong to them.

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In a letter dated June 18, 2020 addressed to Blantyre City Council Chief Executive, Cear indicated to have received reports that there was a gentleman who had trespassed on their land at Clock Tower near Cear’s Blantyre Railway Station and was surveying the land and/or putting up some beacons.

“We have since observed that social media is awash with stories insinuating that the Blantyre City Assembly intends to or has expropriated the land in question and intends to offer it to a Malawian of Asian origin (name withheld) today, 22 June 2020.

“Kindly be advised that whatever the motive, your intended action is illegal as Malawi Government or any of its agencies cannot sell land that is already concessioned to Cear.

By section 5(3) the Concession Agreement, Cear assumed management powers of the Railway Estate and all of the Owner’s (Malawi Railways (1994) Ltd rights and obligations in connection thereto excluding the right to sell the assets and to use them as a collateral,” reads part of the letter.

However, Blantyre City Council spokesperson Antony Kasunda said Cear took the matter to court.

“The issue is in court… Cear took the matter to court and we are defending the matter in court,” he said.

Land issues have become contentious and under intense scrutiny since the Tonse Alliance got in government.

Not long ago, activists also intervened after it transpired that some people had encroached into public school land in Lilongwe.

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