By Our Reporter:
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development is seizing plots of land that were allocated to the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) operatives.
The Atlas has learnt that the process started soon after the country changed its leadership.
The seized plots are in Area Area 43 Sector 7 and other areas within the City of Lilongwe, and were reportedly allocated to the DPP operatives soon after the swearing of former Minister of Housing and Urban Development Kamlepo Kalua.
However, according to ministry of lands sources who spoke on conditions of anonymity, the allocation process of these plots started during the reign of former Minister of Housing and Urban Development Anna Kachikho, then Symon Vuwa Kaunda just before former President Peter Mutharika reshuffled the cabinet.
According to the ministry of lands sources, a review of the allocated plots seizures started soon after the current minister Kezzie Msukwa and his deputy Abidia Mia took office.
“Since it was done by a DPP minister, the assumption was that those who benefitted were the former ruling party’s royalists.
“We were told to provide them with a list of the beneficiaries as well as supporting documents,” said the source.
The source further revealed that Kaunda initially allocated the plots to the DPP loyalists, before Kalua reviewed the process when he took office after noting that many beneficiaries were DPP loyalists.
“Because of the previous political environment in the country, Kaunda was pushing for a fair share of the plots between the opposition and those in government as one way of reaching out to them,” he said.
According to the source, after redeployments at the ministry, acting Commissioner of Lands Euphemia Bota and acting Central Region Commissioner Sarah Mnzunda, fast tracked some of the transactions including withdraw of the concerned plots and re-allocated them to other people.
“So far, what has been done is that the plots have been shared between the current ministers, top government officials and senior ministry of lands officials,” said the source adding that it is now shockingly, the newly allocated plots are already with agents on the market.
There was no immediate comment from the ministry.
The development is a sharp contrast to Msukwa’s recent sentiments where he wanted to free the ministry from political interference.
Issues of land allocations have recently been a cause of public outcry with many citizens alleging that allocation of plots mostly favors those that are politically connected and foreigners.
The ministry of lands has gained the reputation of being the most corrupt, and politically inclined when delivering services.
However, The Sunday Times recently quoted Msukwa as having said that his immediate role was to make land available to all Malawians regardless of their party affiliation.
“I would want to build a team that can be trusted by all Malawians. I want land to be available to Malawians without favoritism. My first step will be to understand the roots of corruption in the ministry, what is it that is making the ministry a conduit of corruption, we will try as much as possible to root it out. Fortunately, I was chairing the Legal Affairs committee of Parliament and we have been doing enquiries, I am pretty aware of issues surrounding that ministry,” he told the publication.
Human rights activist Billy Mayaya said there is need for gatekeepers to stop making excuses and focus on their whistleblowing role to tame the tide of corruption in the ministry.
“I propose the holding of public hearings to expose the rot as well as the institution of a legal review to facilitate land reforms. The new land act was a good start but we need to expand efforts as a nation,” Mayaya said.