Ex Press Agriculture Limited (PAL) tenants in Kasungu say they are still struggling to find land on which to settle and farm after their employment was terminated with the organisation.
The ex-employees, who were taken from several districts as tenants in the 1970s, say they are denied access to land for them to cultivate crops and to settle after PAL chased them from its estates following termination of their employment.
Speaking during a debate which was organized by Millenium Information and Resource Centre (MIRECE) and MUDI AFRICA on Thursday, one of the ex-tenants, Levison Mdaferapo Mwale, said they are deprived of their rights to land.
The debate was organised and conducted under the theme “Equal Access to Land and Fair Labour and Tenant law is a birth Right of Citizens.”
“Although it is said that every citizen has a right to hold land regardless of his status, we poor people are not being helped on the issue of land.
“We have no freedom and years are passing with no government office helping us out on the issue,” Mwale said.
He added that the situation they are in is affecting the education of their children as they have been forced to settle in camps far away from schools.
Commenting on the matter, district labour assistant officer, James Kumpani, said there is no law that says a tenant has to be given a place to settle or cultivate after terminating ties with the employer.
“It is not the mandate of PAL to find a place for the tenants to settle after a contract was terminated, but it is the duty of PAL to take back the tenants where they were taken from,” said Kumpani.
However, some information gathered has shown that the people refused to be taken back to their home districts, claiming they would not be welcomed while others said they were born in the estates or they came while they were young and could not trace their home districts.
MIRECE Executive Director, Reverend Flywell Somanje, said the debate was organised in order to help people understand more about land rights and labour laws.