The Mutharika family has written office of the Attorney General (AG), claiming a piece of land on which the State-owned Malawi University of Science and Technology (Must) was built.
According to Malawi News Investigation, the family wants the AG’s office to address the issue of the land in question.
Attorney General Chikosa Silungwe confirmed that the matter came to his office this week.
“I can confirm that the matter to do with land where Must was built came to my office this week and we have contacted Secretary for Lands to furnish my office with more information concerning the matter,”Silungwe said.
Must spokesperson James Mphande said he was not aware of the developments.
Meabnwhile, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) Executive Director Benedicto Kondowe has described the Mutharika family’s claim over ownership of Must land as fraudulent.
“We know for sure that Professor Bingu Wa Mutharika (the late) had bulldozed the shifting of the University from Lilongwe where it was supposed to be constructed to Ndata. However, he publicly informed Malawians that he had donated the piece of land where lies Must. Despite this public record, the remaining family members have been reluctant and uncooperative to have that piece of land transferred to government. I, therefore find such claims to be not only great mockery to the nation, but also full of ingenuity,” Kondowe said.
He said at law, all land is vested in the republic, and the republic means the people of Malawi and as such, government can claim any piece of land that it wants to put to use for developmental projects, subject to compensation.
Kondowe has therefore urged the Tonse-led government to decisively resolve the matter.
Human rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) Chairperson Gift Trapence said it is unfortunate that late Bingu did not act on this issue during his term.
He said it is unfortunate that relations of the deceased are demanding the same piece of land which was initially publicly communicated as having been donated to government,
“There is no record that late Bingu Wa Mutharika paid for the land. By the way, MDC still exists and is 100 percent under the Secretary to the Treasury therefore we can safely say that the debenture holder of this land is Malawi Government. The whole land belongs to Malawi Government in fact they are supposed to be paying land rentals. This is why we have always been saying that people should be following procedures to prevent abuse of office,” Trapence said.
He added that what HRDC knows is that the land belongs to Ndata Farms Limited, a company that was owned by Malawians who got a loan from MDC which they failed to service and up to now the debenture holder remains MDC.
Late Bingu had made public proclamations that he had donated the piece of land where Must was constructed to government for the benefit of Malawians.
According to our findings, 10 years later, the land is still in the hands of Bineth Trust, whose sore signatories are Professor Peter Mutharika and late Bingu’s daughter, Duwa Mutharika.
Member of Parliament for Mzimba North, Yeremia Chihana, who at one point valued late Bingu’s wealth, said it is not surprising that the matter has resurfaced.
“It’s wrong for the family to claim the land from Must because there are administrators who are in charge of the land, the family should write to the administrators that they would like to take charge of the estate, they cannot write to anybody because they don’t have powers to claim,” Chihana said.
Must sits on a piece of land between Plot Number 61313,50/89 and Plot Number 61313,51/89 Thyolo on the privately-owned Ndata Farm, which late Bingu donated to government to realise his dream of having the institution in Thyolo District.
The immediate past administration, also under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had been saying the legitimate owner of Must is the government.
The University is fully funded by government through Parliament, which represents the people of Malawi and all students at Must are selected through the National Council for Higher Education (Nche) which regulates selection to all public universities.
The previous government is on record to have said that Must has never had any interaction with Bineth Trust or any of the children of the late Bingu who run the Trust
Ndata Farm, whose title deed is 79123, sits on 980 hectares of farm land in Traditional Authority Chimaliro’s area in Thyolo District.
The farm was first registered on January 27, 1998 at the Registrar General’s office as Company Number 4945 of P.O. Box 80054, Blantyre 8 with physical administrative address being Trade Fair Stand Number 34.
In 1998, the farm was registered with initial capital of K250, 000 under four directors, namely; Fredson Lawrence Mambiya, Fenneck Nelson Gunda, P Lodewick Ferreira and John Willy Ntodwa.
Ndata Farm 1998 Limited at inception obtained a loan of K6 million from Malawi MDC as as working capital.
The university campus at Ndata was constructed with a loan from the Chinese Government, together with the National stadium in Lilongwe.
The Chinese Government has supported five major projects in the country and two of them—the Karonga-Chitipa Road and the New Parliament building— being grants at $40 million (about K13.6 billion) and $10 million (about K3.4billion).
The other three projects are International Conference Centre, Hotel and Presidential Villas funded through a concessional loan.