UK urged to intervene in Thyolo land issues


The United Kingdom has been asked to intervene in the land issues in Thyolo and Mulanje district where estate owners are being demanded to give idle land to residents.

Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiative (CDEDI) has made the appeal in a letter written to the UK High Commission in Malawi.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa argues in the letter that Britain is the ultimate beneficiary of the land issue since it has the largest shareholder in a conglomerate known as the Camellia Group which owns the Eastern Produce Malawi (EMP), a company that has vast land in Thyolo and Mulanje districts.

Namiwa added that British settlers started acquiring the land many years ago from Traditional Authority in exchange of salts, clothes, shoes and guns for hunting and later made the chiefs powerless over land issues by declaring the Queen of England as the owner.

According to Namiwa, the land now legally belongs to people of Malawi unless Britain comes out clearly with proper documents for the land.

He said there are idle lands in hands of Estate Owners when the rightful owners are left destitute.

“These people, the commission may wish to know even further, have tried to seek help from individuals and institutions, but have unsuccessfully failed to reclaim the only ancestral principal inheritance, or to at least see justice being done on the matter.

“The citizens in these two districts feel isolated and being less of human beings since they do not have land which is the most fundamental natural resources available to man for social and economic development in the agro-based Malawi economy. These people, therefore, have been disenfranchised from their right to economic activities, and most decades, the right to food,” said Namiwa.

According to Namiwa, people that have been greatly affected are those that are under Traditional Authority (T/­A) Bvumbwe, Boyidi, Nchiramwera, Kapichi and Sub T/A Maganiza in Thyolo and T/A Njema, Mabuka and Sunganinzeru in Mulanje District.

He said people in the two districts are facing many challenges such as high level of school dropouts, hunger, and overpopulation.

Thyolo district covers a total area of 1,715 square kilometers with projected total population of about 666,894 giving a high population density of 343 persons per square Km. The Estates possess over half of the arable land comprising 14,422 hectares, leaving the locals scrambling for 26,380 hectares.

Mulanje district has 2,036 square kilometers of land with total population of about 587,553. The Estates in Mulanje are clinging 14,847 hectares of land out of the total cultivatable land of 152,393 hectares.


CDEDI has also written another letter to Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on the same.