Blantyre City Council (BCC) has backtracked on its warning against illegal settlers in Ndirande, Soche, Bangwe and Mpingwe hills to relocate, saying the council has no intention to demolish their structures.
In a statement issued yesterday, which The Nation has seen, the council said people who encroached hills should not live in fear as the council has no immediate intention to demolish their structures, a statement which contradicts a January 18 ultimatum by the same council for the encroachers to relocate within 60 days.
Reads the statement in part: “The council would like to state clearly that there is no ultimatum for people of Soche Hill, Ndirande Hill, Bangwe Hill, [and]Mpingwe Hill to relocate. People of these areas should not live in fear.
“The council does not just wake up and demolish people’s houses. It follows procedures and principles of natural justice.”
BCC, however, advised people in the areas to take precautionary measures as the hilly areas are prone to disasters.
The statement further urges those willing to voluntarily relocate to apply for residential plots at the council.
On January 18 this year, BCC issued a statement signed by chief executive officer Alfred Chanza warning all illegal settlers in the areas to demolish their structures within 60 days, noting the encroachers developed the areas without the council’s permission, contrary to the Forestry Act.
The council added that failure to comply with the notice within the period would lead to the demolition of the structures by the council.
When asked on the contradiction yesterday, BCC public relations manager Anthony Kasunda refused to comment on the matter, referring The Nation to the statement.
But in an interview yesterday, social commentator Humphrey Mvula said the council’s decision is an indication of lack of seriousness and discipline in the council and the government as whole.
He said the decision was politically motivated to attract voters in next year’s tripartite elections.
“This issue is a big scandal in full view of the council and government. But the main aim of the decision is to buy the illegal settlers’ votes,” he said.