MHC under fire for constructing houses on private land

The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has appealed to the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB), and the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the circumstances that prompted the Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) to venture into a MK3.5 billion construction project of 65 dwelling units on private land at Ngumbe area in Blantyre.

CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa made the appeal on Monday during a press briefing which the organization conducted in Lilongwe.

This follows revelations that MHC built houses on land belonging to Chitseko Estate Limited.

According to Namiwa, the results of a fact finding mission conducted by the organization have collaborated with information contained in a whistle blowers letter from the Corporation, which shows that Principal Surveyor Alick Chirwa, Projects Manager Davis Kwanjana, Corporate Secretary Bob Chimkango, Estate Officer Rodney Nankuyu, and Mr. Haliwa and other officials from MHC conducted a boundary verification exercise prior to the commencement of the project.

“The team reportedly advised the corporation not to proceed with the project since it was clear that the MHC did not own the land

“It is further reported that the Surveyor and the Project Manager drew alternative plans to make sure the houses would be built within the correct boundaries of the MHC’s land. The team further advised management, including Jordan Chipala the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) that the corporation would lose a lot of money and risked demolition of the houses if they constructed on Chitsekos land.  Sadly, such professional advice and alternative plans were reportedly shot down by the Corporations Legal Manager Okota Mzanda, on grounds that building the houses elsewhere would be conceding defeat,” he said.

Namiwa noted that it was very clear that the MHC was aware that they did not own the land, and yet they still continued with the construction of the houses.

According to him, the Chitseko Estate Limited sounded an SOS and the MHC officials were summoned to the Ministry of Lands in October 2020 where they were told that a report by the Surveyor General had sadly found that the houses were built on land that did not belong to MHC.

He claimed that CDEDI is aware that a meeting was convened in Lilongwe over the matter, chaired by the former Principal Secretary Bernard Sande, where instructions were issued against the release of the Surveyor Generals report.

“Unfortunately, Chitseko Estate Limited had already been made aware about the contents of the report by the office of the Commissioner for Lands, a development that led to a disciplinary action which was meted out against the Acting Commissioner for Lands, Euphemia Botha”, he expressed

Apart from the probe, CDEDI wants the Surveyor General’s report on the issue to be made public

The organisations has also demanded the prosecution of all the top government and MHC officials involved in the cover up of the Surveyor General’s report and the re-instatement of the Acting Commissioner for Lands, Euphonia Botha who was punished for sharing the contents of the Surveyor General’s report with Chitseko Estate Limited

CDEDI also wants MHC Legal Manager and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jordan Chipala to resign.

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