By Manasse Nyirenda:
Minister of Lands, Kezzie Msukwa, has told community members at Nkhozo in Rumphi that he will engage President Lazarus Chakwera to find a solution to the dispute over land owned by Africa Invest whose ownership the community disputes.
Msukwa made the remarks after concluding a community dialogue with people of the area at Nkhozo in the district.
He said there is need to find a lasting solution to the issue which has dragged for so long.
“The main purpose of the meeting was to continue with the dialogue that we have been having concerning Nkhozo Estate sale to Tropha. As Malawians may know, Africa Invest has an estate here at Nkhozo and they intend to sell it.
“The communities here do not want the sale to proceed. They want the land to be given back to them. So, I thought I should come here and engage them.
“This is our third engagement and in a way, it is a stalemate. But there is somewhere we can start from. The next step is that I have to take it up with other MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) so that when we report to the Head of State, it has to include a technical view,” he said.
Msukwa also said he would engage the owner of the estate to see how best the issue can be handled.
On his part, Acting Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe, asked communities in the area to remain calm and wait for feedback from the President.
Speaking on behalf of affected community members from Nkhozo, Group Village Headman Taona Gondwe urged government to find a solution that would cater for the interests of its people.
Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) representative, Moir Walita, also asked government to get to the root of the problem so that it may be addressed smoothly.
The Ministry of Lands was accompanied by Secretary for Lands, Bernard Sande.
The land in question used to be customary before government took control with consent of the then leaders in the area.
Some of them were compensated over the same, according to records. The land then changed to public and was later sold to Africa Invest Malawi Limited.
The land spans 2500 hectares in size.