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Ministry admits land sale fraud

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The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has admitted that it is aware that some transactions involving the sale of land under its authority have been concluded fraudulently.

This follows reports that the ministry sometimes sells one piece of land to two developers only to reverse the transaction involving one of the buyers after payments have already been made.

A case in point is when in 2011, Kenny Mwanyongo was allocated Plot Title Number 28/277 comprising 1.075 hectares in Lilongwe and in 2013, the same plot was allocated to another developer apparently because Mwanyongo had failed to pay for the plot within the required period.

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However, documents in our possession indicate that even though the ministry claims Mwanyongo failed to pay development fees within the required period, the ministry still accepted his payment and went ahead to allocate the same plot to Lilongwe Packaging Limited (LPL).

In a response to our questionnaire on alleged land sale fraud, Ministry of Lands Public Relations Officer (PRO) Charles Vintulla said members of the public have complained that certain conmen have been posing as Ministry of Lands officials and have been getting money from unsuspecting prospective developers.

But according to our sources within the ministry, there are deliberate collusion where senior officials receive bribes from ‘rich’ developers, mostly foreigners, and grab plots from Malawians on the pretext that they have failed to fulfill certain requirements.

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In his response, Vintulla said members of the public who have lodged their complaints to the ministry have been advised to refer their issues to relevant authorities including the police.

“The ministry has been working hand in hand with the police to bring the culprits to book. The ministry has also sensitised the general public on such matters through press releases in both print and electronic media.

“If the media has names of officials who are involved in the alleged syndicate, the ministry would appreciate if it can be furnished with details of such officers and the alleged malpractices committed and the ministry will take appropriate action against such officers,” said Vintulla.

In an interview Tuesday, Executive Director of Institute for Policy Interaction, Rafiq Hajat, wondered why government does not seem keen to solve land fraud issues when they have been reported many times before.

Hajat said government has the responsibility of ensuring people’s security of property as someone who has paid for a piece of land is fully entitled to it.

“The whole issue of land fraud clearly means somewhere somehow there is collusion of sorts. We can’t even start thinking about the minister probing the matter because he is like a captain of a ship going through troubled waters,” said Hajat.

He further proposed that there should be a proper investigation into dubious land sales where an independent body which excludes the ministry should get to the bottom of the fraudulent transactions and report to the President.

During the last meeting of Parliament, legislators from the opposition side asked Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Atupele Muluzi, to suspend the sale of land to foreigners until land bills are passed.

The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development has admitted that it is aware that some transactions involving the sale of land under its authority have been concluded fraudulently.

This follows reports that the ministry sometimes sells one piece of land to two developers only to reverse the transaction involving one of the buyers after payments have already been made.

A case in point is when in 2011, Kenny Mwanyongo was allocated Plot Title Number 28/277 comprising 1.075 hectares in Lilongwe and in 2013, the same plot was allocated to another developer apparently because Mwanyongo had failed to pay for the plot within the required period.

However, documents in our possession indicate that even though the ministry claims Mwanyongo failed to pay development fees within the required period, the ministry still accepted his payment and went ahead to allocate the same plot to Lilongwe Packaging Limited (LPL).

In a response to our questionnaire on alleged land sale fraud, Ministry of Lands Public Relations Officer (PRO) Charles Vintulla said members of the public have complained that certain conmen have been posing as Ministry of Lands officials and have been getting money from unsuspecting prospective developers.

But according to our sources within the ministry, there are deliberate collusion where senior officials receive bribes from ‘rich’ developers, mostly foreigners, and grab plots from Malawians on the pretext that they have failed to fulfill certain requirements.

In his response, Vintulla said members of the public who have lodged their complaints to the ministry have been advised to refer their issues to relevant authorities including the police.

“The ministry has been working hand in hand with the police to bring the culprits to book. The ministry has also sensitised the general public on such matters through press releases in both print and electronic media.

“If the media has names of officials who are involved in the alleged syndicate, the ministry would appreciate if it can be furnished with details of such officers and the alleged malpractices committed and the ministry will take appropriate action against such officers,” said Vintulla.

In an interview Tuesday, Executive Director of Institute for Policy Interaction, Rafiq Hajat, wondered why government does not seem keen to solve land fraud issues when they have been reported many times before.

Hajat said government has the responsibility of ensuring people’s security of property as someone who has paid for a piece of land is fully entitled to it.

“The whole issue of land fraud clearly means somewhere somehow there is collusion of sorts. We can’t even start thinking about the minister probing the matter because he is like a captain of a ship going through troubled waters,” said Hajat.

He further proposed that there should be a proper investigation into dubious land sales where an independent body which excludes the ministry should get to the bottom of the fraudulent transactions and report to the President.

During the last meeting of Parliament, legislators from the opposition side asked Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Atupele Muluzi, to suspend the sale of land to foreigners until land bills are passed.

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