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LAND DISPUTES SETTLEMENT: Citizens give government vote of no confidence

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Malawians say they have no trust in government when it comes to issues of settlement of land disputes.

This public position is given in research findings by the Institute of Public Opinion and Research which were released in Lilongwe last week.

The research found that 60 percent of Malawians have trust to have their land disputes settled by village headmen while 15 percent report to no-one.

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The report further says only five percent report to police while four percent to courts.

Land also tops the list of reasons for disputes in Malawi at 25 percent of the people attributing their disputes to land issues while 21 percent have other reasons.

Fourteen percent of the disputes come from domestic issues and 8.9 percent are due to drunkenness while five percent are due to money.

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The study also finds that official government land titles are quite rare in Malawi. It finds that only 13 percent of the landowners have a document proving that they own the land.

Fifteen percent of the female headed households report holding a land title, compared to 13 percent of the households with a male head, but the difference is not statistically significant.

According to the report, these findings are slightly lower than those of a study conducted in April 2016 where it was found that 17 percent registered at the government office, 14 percent registered at both the government office and the village head, and most people registered their land through the village head, 69 percent.

“A focus group participant reflected upon this and said the chiefs improperly give land to people who are influential/ rich, so it means even if you go to register your land at the DC’s office, you lack backing from the corrupt chief,” read the findings.

In an interview Institute of Public Opinion and Research National Investigator Boniface Dulani said by the fact that many citizens have no trust to report disputes to government shows that they have no trust and confidence in their government.

“Land issues are critical and for people to go to traditional leaders shows that Malawi is becoming a failing state. It shows that government is not appealing to the people,” said Dulani.

Government spokesperson Malison Ndau was not immediately available for comment.

The study was a collaborative project between Governance and Local Development (GLD) of University of Gothenburg, Sweden, The Christian Michelsen Institute (Bergen, Norway) and Malawi’s Institute of Public Opinion and Research (IPOR).

The aim of the project was to explain variation in governance and local development in an effort to help countries such as Malawi collect, assess, and benchmark detailed information around issues of local and public sector performance and service delivery to citizens and businesses.

The research focused on the topics of livelihoods and land issues in Malawi, highlighting general development challenges that ordinary Malawians are facing.

The study was implemented between March and April 2016 in 15 of the country’s 28 districts.

It involved interviews with more than 8,000 Malawians.

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