…Chiefs stripped off power over land
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers in Parliament have passed the Land Bill which will largely strip local leaders from authority over land.
Traditional Authorities (TAs) and chiefs will not have control over land once the President assents to the bill into law.
The bill was passed by a handful of government Members of Parliament earlier this week as the opposition legislators left the house in anger. The opposition lawmakers all left the August house after government maintained that the new bill should not affect freehold land saying it should be under the leasehold.
MPs on the government side had rejected the recommendations raised by Chairperson of the committee Victor White Mbewe on whether the bill could rope in such a change or not.
But opposition lawmakers stood their ground and went against the stand the government side took.
It was after this that they left the house in their large numbers.
Meanwhile, Leader of the House, George Chaponda, and Minister of Energy, Bright Msaka, has indicated that the law cannot be applied retrospectively. Opposition leader in the House, Lazarous Chakwera told the media he and the other opposition MPs were let down with the way government handled the whole issue.
“The problem is that some of the pieces of this legislation have anomalies. We have freehold land, much of which was acquired before independence. Then we have the issue of customary land, which ordinary Malawians use. According to the Bill, customary land has to be registered. What we are looking for here is fairness,” he said.
Government has since been urged to be more cautious with such land reforms in the country to avoid killing the next generation by depriving them of land in the future.
“There is no doubt land laws need to be revisited: except for the customary land, most of public land is owned by non nationals, and a few elite. It is interesting to note even the Minister of Lands agrees there is need for amendment of the land laws.’’ Lilongwe based political analyst, Laudon Malingamoyo Phiri told Malawi24 in an interview on Wednesday.