President Peter Mutharika has come under attack for assenting to the controversial land-related bills with a grouping of some traditional leaders blaming the head of state for being defiant to people’s concerns.
A network of traditional leaders in Blantyre under the banner Blantyre Traditional Chiefs Network petitioned Mutharika on Friday asking him to reverse his decision within 21 days.
The chiefs met in Ndirande at Group Village Headman Makata’s headquarters where they described the recent land law as one that requires thorough scrutiny.
According to Secretary General for the Blantyre Chiefs, Group Village Headman Somanje Makata, the chiefs are not happy with the law because they were not consulted in framing the law that is “bent on taking away their powers over land issues in the country.”
“It beats common sense that the president assented to the bill amidst controversies surrounding it. The president needed to veto it until Malawians were thoroughly consulted. Our subjects are not
happy with it. We can’t be made to lease our ancestral land from government. Can he send the bill back to Parliament within 21 days?” Makata said.
President for Umodzi Party John Chisi backed the chiefs in a separate interview claiming the law is designed to make people have less say on land issues.
“The bill gives powers to physical planners to partition strategic areas rich in mineral resources so that government can have control over the mining activities. The prevailing resistance shown in current projects has forced government to come up with this law. It is not being championed in good faith but rather to exploit Malawi’s mineral resource,” Chisi said.
President for United Independence Party Hellen Singh also faulted Mutharika of assenting to the land-related bills.
She claimed locals will not have any say when government arbitrarily repossess land from them as the bill does not give powers to the judiciary to settle any land issues save the president, the Minister of lands, and the Director of lands.
“Any strategic land that catches government official’s interest will be reposed in payment of meagre sums. There will be no room for arbitration by our courts because the bill (now law) exempts all land issues from being heard by our courts. People will be told to go to the president, Minister of Lands or director of lands, ” Singh said.
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