MHRC moves in on land rights violations


Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has moved to investigate violations of human rights, particularly access to justice, labour and land rights. Of late, Malawi has witnessed an increase in land ownership disputes, the latest being that of Livimbo Primary School land and other areas where some businesspersons claim to have bought in Lilongwe.

MHRC Executive Secretary, David Nungu, said the aim of the investigations is to promote justice by ensuring that such rights are being respected.

The commission said the investigations entail people to submit testimonies and facts on how these rights were violated upon engaging institutions responsible to safeguard them.


“We have been receiving complaints and we have decided to do the audit. It will be done separately and there will be policy recommendations that we will have at the end of it and do the investigations separately,” he said.

On land rights, the commission wants to find out the extent to which duty bearers including Ministry of Lands, Urban Housing and Development adhere to land justice.

The labour rights audit seeks to establish if foreign companies and businesses comply with human rights standards and principles in treatment of the people that they employ.


“We want to see if there are some employees who have been imported from elsewhere but in actual senses could have been acquired in Malawi. We need to dig deeper and find the blockages to good governance,” Nungu said.

He said their investigations were not directly connected to the Livimbo land issue but rather concerns all pieces of land.

“Our design came way before the Livimbo issue. We already indicated that we would do a land audit as part of our strategic plan but funding delayed this. What Parliament did was merely breaking the ground,” Nungu said.

“The commission has powers of its own motion. We are aware of the issue of Livimbo and other areas.

They will be part of the land audit we will undertake on land administration,” he said.

Human Rights Consultative Committee Chairperson, Robert Mkwezalama, has welcomed the investigations stressing that they will be of significance as the country is compiling a universal periodic review.

The commission will conduct the investigations with support from European Union through Chilungamo Project.

On November 19 2019, Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) issued a five-day ultimatum to the Ministry of Land to reverse alleged selling of plots where schools namely Livimbo, Magwero, Chimutu and New Shire are located.

Eventually, HRDC Chairperson, Timothy Mtambo, said the protests would be put on hold after getting an explanation from the government authorities.

Mtambo made the announcement after holding a meeting with the government officials. The meeting was meant to gather facts on the alleged selling of land.

Surveyor General, Julius Chisi, explained to stakeholders that latest retracement survey conducted on November 22 2019 showed that the school land was encroached.

He said his department will carry out a retracement survey together with the owners of surrounding plots to determine the extent of the encroachment.

Lilongwe City Council Development Controlling Manager, Obvious Nyirenda, disclosed that the city is expected to demolish industrial warehouses which the council did not approve.

Lawyer representing the developers, Ismael Wadi, told journalists that he had written the council planning committee challenging their decision.

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