Paramount Chief Kyungu and Karonga District Council have been accused of dilly-dallying to resolve a 20-year-old land dispute which culminated in Mwenitete and Mwayembe villagers torching and demolishing 28 houses in Mwankenja Village last month.
Kyungu, district commissioner Rosemary Moyo, police officer-in-charge Edward Chingaipe and presidential adviser on national unity Symon Vuwa-Kaunda visited the displaced community on Tuesday when UNWomen and the Department of Disaster Management donated blankets, buckets, sanitary kits and roofing materials to 44 affected households.
However, frustration and bitterness were typical by words as they hopped from one house to another counting the losses incurred during the November 13 nocturnal invasion in which visually-impaired Moston Mwangonde had his house gutted, sickly octogenarian Ruth Mwantalula dislocated her leg in a failed escape and several widows saw their assets all go up in smoke.
When the high-powered delegation visited her roofless house, Emily Binga, who raises three children singlehandedly, told The Nation: “The conflict would not have gone out of hand if the officials had intervened just when we asked them to solve this conflict once and for all.”
According to Village Head Mwankenja, the spat has been simmering since 1994 when their violent neighbours started clamouring for his subjects’ land, which had been under Mpata Local Scheme since 1972.
In December last year, complaints of a looming war compelled Kyungu to dispatch four envoys of his to Mpata to hear both sides and help settle the dispute.
In an interview later, a seemingly irate Kyungu admitted giving Kalambo and his camp “a long rope”, saying he summoned him twice to tell him to seek peace first, but he has been intransigent.
In an interview, UNWomen country representative Alice Harding Shakelfold said: “This is a wake-up call for Malawi that peace building is an integral part of development.”
Police service arrested 10 people in connection with the clashes, but only six, including heads of the invading villages, are still in custody.