President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered a review of all land laws enacted in 2017, blaming them for the country’s chaotic scramble for land by both individuals and businesses.
The President issued the directive in Parliament in Lilongwe on Wednesday during his second session of Questions to the President.
He was responding to a question from Chitipa South member of Parliament (MP) Werani Chilenga (Democratic Progressive Party-DPP) who wanted to know what the President’s administration, ushered in office through the court-ordered June 23 Fresh Presidential Election, will do to ensure that contentious issues in land-related laws are sorted out.
The MP reminded Chakwera that while wearing the hat of Leader of Opposition in Parliament, he (Chakwera) in 2017 led the then opposition bloc to walk out of the House in protest over some provisions in the laws.
In his detailed response, the President said: “Firstly, I am directing the Ministry of Lands to review all the land laws to address the flaws in the legislation and those laws must be brought for amendment at the next sitting of the House.
“Secondly, to help in this review process, I will see to it that the pilot phase of the land reforms implementation is completed before the end of the year so that the lessons from that process inform the law process.
“Thirdly, consultations are underway on the three contentious issues; sale of land to foreigners, existence of freehold land and the piece of legislation on customary land.”
Chakwera specifically cited the Registered Land Act, Forestry Act, Local Government Act, Public Road Act and Malawi Housing Act as the laws to be reviewed.
He said consultations were already in progress on the required amendments.
The President said that apart from challenges that have emerged in the implementation of the laws, the laws were also contested by several stakeholders, including some traditional leaders mostly due to inadequate consultations.
During on Wednesday’s session which started at 2pm, Chakwera was scheduled to respond to nine questions, but he took another five supplementary questions due to time limitations.
In response to questions on measures the government intends to take to assist millions of Malawians threatened by hunger as a result of poor harvest due to floods in some areas and drought in places such as Balaka, he said government had prepared a response based on the vulnerability assessment survey.
Addressing the media after Question Time to the President, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Kondwani Nankhumwa said he was satisfied with the way the opposition had asked the questions and was looking forward to future questions to the President.
He said: “It’s a new phenomenon, there are a lot of things that are going to be learnt along the way but I am impressed by the quality of the questions.”
Since 1994 when the Constitution provided for the President to appear in Parliament and answer questions from MPs, the country’s first multiparty era president Bakili Muluzi (1994-2004) appeared in Parliament once to take the questions.
Chakwera is the second President to take questions in Parliament while Muluzi’s successors Bingu wa Mutharika (2004-2012), Joyce Banda (2012-2014) and Peter Mutharika (2014-2020) did not fulfil the constitutional provision.