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Parliament passes Registered Land Bill

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Parliament on Monday passed Registered Land (Amendment) Bill which seeks to take the land registration approval powers from the minister responsible for land to customary land committees and Traditional Authorities (T/As) whose jurisdiction the land falls under.

Currently, the powers to have customary land registered or leased rests in the hands of the minister responsible for lands and most customary land in the country is not registered as registration has been the luxury of the rich who have easy access to Lands offices.

According to Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Atupele Muluzi, if assented to, the bill will subject the whole country to registration and the changes will enable the registration of all customary land whose owners are vulnerable to rich people and land grabbing by big estates.

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Muluzi said subsequent transaction on land will be subjected to customary land committees and T/As’ approval.

When Muluzi presented the clauses that were due for changes, Members of Parliament (MPs), notably Nkhata Bay Central legislator, Raphael Mhone, and Kasungu West MP, Elias Wakuda Kamanga, had some reservations but in the end the House approved the amendments.

Among others, the MPs feared that some chiefs may be using their own personal reasons not to approve the registration of land for some people who really deserve such a registration.

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Muluzi said the passed bill, which is based on the land policy of 2002, addresses the challenges that vulnerable groups such as women and children in the country are facing.

“If a woman or children have land in the village and they want it registered, they will just be able to go to the committee and ask for a lease and that committee, which will also have women representatives, will have powers to approve that lease and refer it to the Traditional Authority who will be approving without necessarily waiting for the minister responsible for lands as is the case now,” Muluzi said.

Out of 10 land-related bills that the government presented to Parliament, nine have passed and include the four assented to bills such as Land Bill, Customary Land, Physical Planning, Land Survey and the recently passed Local Government (Amendment), Public Roads (Amendment) , Registered Land Bill, Malawi Housing (Amendment) and Land Acquisition (Amendment).

Yesterday, the MPs started debating on another land-related Forest (Amendment) Bill.

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