…ultimatum gets extended
The confusion that has erupted between government and people from Thyolo and Mulanje districts over the idle land in tea estates is refusing to settle as People’s Land organisation (PLO) has extended the 21 day ultimatum for negotiations with government and now says it gives the Peter Mutharika administration until 12 January next year to negotiate or else it will officially declare the two districts as a sovereign state.
Chairperson for PLO, Vincent Wandale, who claims to be the supreme leader, founder and trustee of the organisation, told one of the local radio stations that he has decided to give government a chance on the issue after realizing that as an organization they did not meet to ratify how they are going to proceed on the matter.
“We have extended the period because there were a lot of complaints. People were saying that we have done it prematurely and we did not give them enough room for negotiations. So we thought it wise to give the government period of time to do what they think they can do.
“We gave them 21 days which I made it personally after realizing we didn’t meet to ratify that decision as an organization on how to proceed. We expected that everyone who is concerned is going to meet the acts within the next 21 days from 23 December,” said Wandale.
He further explained that their organization will meet to discuss the matter and he also clarified that what they need is not to be independent but their land.
“Government is just like family. We discuss with nothing and then we develop. So far what we want is to meet as an organisation to strategize how to proceed on this matter because to be frank we need our land, not to be independent.
“If you ask any PLO member why we are doing this, they need to secure their land. We are wondering, why should somebody under rule of law defend people who steal land,” wondered Wandale.
However, Wandale said he still stands on his decision to declare the two districts as one state if government this time will not intervene on the matter.
“Thyolo and Mulanje are richest districts. We spend over 4 billion US dollars on Macadamia in a month. Do you question that area will not be sustained? Most people are not doing us fair but for us we are not going back, if they don’t give us our land by the slated period we will finally declare as one sovereign state without any negotiations because we have given them enough room,” he said.
Last month Wandale issued another 21 day ultimatum to government to address the matter or else the two districts could become a sovereign state and will be called African Traditionalists Republic of United States of Thyolo and Mulanje (Must).
However, PLO board chair, John Henry Pindani, together with leader of Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje (CPM) Bon Kalindo dismissed Wandale’s threats.
The group organized a press conference to dismiss Wandale’s assertion and met President Peter Mutharika on Monday last week to assure him that the two districts will not secede.
The PLO has been agitating for the local people’s occupation of all idle tea estates land in the districts since its establishment in 2009 and has been demanding the estate owners pay €65 about (K53,000) per acre per year for all used colonial estate land from 1914 to date.
The organization has also been demanding from estate owners to wage rate of € 6.13 per hour (about K5000) per individual for those who were involved in Thangata (bounded labour) between 1914 and 1963.