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Malawi’s Land Commissioner Kwame Ngwira embroiled in land scam for selling a plot to two clients

Minister of Lands AtupeleMuluzi with senior officials at the ministry inspecting road project
Minister of Lands AtupeleMuluzi with senior officials at the ministry inspecting road project in Lilongwe

LILONGWE-(MaraviPost). The controller of Land in the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development, Kwame Ngwira has been entangled in a controversy after he initiated the selling of one plot to different clients in the capital Lilongwe prompting the second buyer to seek court intervention on the matter.

Kenny Mwanyongo and Asian firm-Lilongwe Packaging Limited (LPL) are the clients battling for the piece of land which is located at Area 28 after the ministry sold dubiously when all in all the plot was already in the other client hands.

The Maravi Post is in possession of the documents which shows that the ministry sold plot number 28/277 of about 1.075 hectares to Mwanyongo in May 2011 and the same land was later sold to LPL) in April 2013.

Mwanyongo acquired the land at MK6.5 million and MK257,352.30 as development charge and other fees respectively which he paid in installments of about MK1 million till 2014 after seeking for a waiver as 90 days are required for full amount when land is bought.

After developing the fencing on the land and constructing a road for the neighborhood, Mwanyongo discovered that the regional lands office sold the same plot to LPL in 2013, prompting him to seek court redress on the matter.

On the other hand, LPL got plot at MK10.8 million and MK401, 100.00 as development charge and other fees which were fully paid in 2013 according to documents in our possession which Ngwira is said to be facilitating the selling of the land on behalf of the Ministry.

Our investigation reveals that early this year, LPL after discovering that the land also belong to another client-Mwanyongo, the Indian firm reported the matter to Kanengo police of land grabbing which was advised to seek redress at the court which eventually they did.

In the letter dated February 19, 2016 from the Ministry of Land signed by Ngwira as Controller of Lands addressing Mwanyongo which The Maravi Post sourced states that the piece of the land was taken from him because Mwanyongo failed to pay development charges in full within 90 days as stipulated by the law.

“You are aware that the piece of the land which was allocated to you in 2011 was re-allocated to another developer in 2013 after the said plot was withdrawn from you for failure to pay development charges in full payment within 90 days. However, records on file show that you paid the balance of the development charges after the expiry of the lease offer and after the subsequent developer had paid the development charges and other related fees in full.

“The ministry has reviewed that the matter and decision has been made that you should be allocated an alternative plot within the city of Lilongwe. The Ministry can’t identify an alternative (Plot) in Area 28 because all the plots in Area 28 have been allocated to various developers. You will therefore be allocated an alternative plot in any suitable area with the city of Lilongwe. You will be advised once the plot has been identified”, concludes the letter.

Mwanyongo confirmed the development saying his plot was sold to an Indian Firm and the ministry through commissioner Ngwira advised him to request another piece of land in the city as the plot in question was offered to another client.

“In fact Lilongwe Packaging Limited has sued me on the same land which they say obtained  title deed from the ministry which I feel something fishy went on this matter. The problem I have with the present situation is the amount of money I paid already worthy MK1 million on the initial development and it doesn’t add up to be told that that I will be re-located another plot”, worried Mwanyongo.

Efforts to get Ngwira’s reaction on the matter as is being accused of meddling his country men favoring foreigners proved futile for several attempt using his mobile phone which sources further disclosed that there are lots of land scams in the ministry where top officials including Ngwira prioritize non-nationals when selling land.

However,  cabinet gazetted the Land Bill 2016 on February 22, 2016 and failed to be tabled in the last 2015/2015 budget review session of Parliament after three years the former President Joyce Banda failed to assent it into law in 2013 due to protests from chiefs, women activists (Action Aid Malawi and NGO Gender Coordination Network) describing it as the way of dealing with chiefs in administering land as the case in Tanzania while on  women sides, the law was discriminatory towards women and children in accessing land resources which needed further consultations before it was passed into the law.

The 2016 Land Bill comprises ten Land-related bills including Land, Customary, Registered, Land Acquisitions (Amendment), Physical Planning, Land Survey, Local Government (Amendment), Malawi Housing (Amendment), Forestry (Amendment) and Public Roads.

However, the bill is not clear as to how many pieces of land a person is supposed to own only stating that provisions shall provides sealings for acquisation of the land to control land grabbing.Not only that the law is silence on how is it going to deal with individuals that have already lost their land through grabs from misguided politicians, business persons and investors.

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