The Centre for Democracy and Economic Development Initiatives (CDEDI) has appealed to Malawi Parliament to investigate tea, coffee and Macademia nuts producers in Thyolo and Mulanje, saying the estate owners do not disclose their proceeds and some of them are using the estates for poultry production.
CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament should summon and investigate stakeholders in the Tea and Macadamia industries.
CDEDI Executive Director Sylvester Namiwa said that they believe the government of Malawi is in some undesirable agreements with owners of these estates and such agreements include non-payment of tax and nondisclosure of proceeds.
“The secrecy in Tea industry is disturbing, especially when one considers that during every tobacco growing season Malawians get to know how much tobacco they produced, and how much the country earned from its sales. Such transparency and accountability is lacking in the Tea, coffee, Tung and Macadamia produced in Thyolo, Mulanje, Nkhatabay and other districts,” he said.
Namiwa added that the probe will also clear rumours that tea proceeds are not channelled back to Malawi.
According to Namiwa, there is no justification for providing land much needed by Malawians to the Tea and Macadamia industries in Thyolo, Mulanje and Nkhata Bay when Malawians are not benefiting.
“In fact, today, more and more people are losing jobs at the plantations as the estates are resorting to replacing manual labour with advanced technologies. Actually, some estates have completely abandoned tea production and are now in poultry production while others are diversifying into other industries, in desperate attempts to cling onto the land traditional.
“There is also excessive use of chemicals that is posing a threat to the safety of the locals and, indeed, the ecosystem. For those that are still in the tea production, some have thrown all caution to the wind and no longer care about the welfare of their surrounding communities,” he said.
He noted that the estates owners are not carrying out any corporate social responsibilities such that they are even failing to maintain the roads in their own estates and in some cases water pipes to the estates merely pass through villages where people drink water from unprotected sources.
He said Parliament should intervene and ensure that all estates in the country are contributing to larger good or else should surrender the land.
Namiwa also noted that citizens in the said districts feel isolated as they do not have land which is one of the most fundamental natural resources available to man for social and economic development in the agro-based Malawi economy.
According to Namiwa, landless people, therefore, have been disenfranchised from their right to economic activities and, most importantly, for decades, they have been denied right to food, which is one of the basic human rights.