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Livingstonia Synod angry with land bills

Livingstonia Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) on Saturday took a swipe at government over the newly passed land-related bills, during the Umthetho Ngoni Cultural Festival in Mzimba.

There was a bit of drama when moderator Douglas Chipofya was asked to pray at the beginning of the proceedings but instead, General Secretary Levi Nyondo took to the microphone to call for order and discipline from the patrons.

Also instead of the prayer, Chipofya delivered a sermon where he accused government and Parliament for tabling and consequently passing a bill which they said Malawians hardly understand.

He said, for instance, the Customary Land Bill is in itself an interference to cultural rites since issues of land come at the centre of cultural heritage.

He said it is a pity that government paid a blind eye to such facts and decided to neglect chiefs and their subjects during the preparation stage of the contentious bill.

“Land is a big issue. It is a pity that there were no consultations on what the bill should contain. Need I say that the synod was not consulted either. Chiefs are nursing fears that through the new arrangement of the land committees, someone is tampering with their authority,” Chipofya said.

He said that government should help uphold people’s right to own property, and thus asked authorities to go back to the drawing board and ensure that there is proper consultation at the grassroots.

“Let us maintain our cultural values and you cannot separate land if you want to talk about culture, whose custodians are the very chiefs we are celebrating today. May God help us jealously safeguard our cultural values,” he said.

Surprisingly, all government delegates to the event including Local Government Minister, Kondwani Nankhumwa, who represented President Peter Mutharika, did not respond to the sermon.

But Leader of Opposition, who also attended the festival, Lazarus Chakwera, said in a later interview that the continued public outcry about the Customary Land Bill is evidence that the level of consultation leaves a lot to be desired.

“This tells you that perhaps when we say we have talked to people, we just mean the few experts and not the actual individuals we should be talking to. Who are directly affected by the cause being advanced,” Chakwera said.

He then cautioned authorities in the country to tread carefully on matters of national interest so that they are not seen to be doing a disservice to the people they are meant to serve.

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