Traditional leaders in the country have differed over provisions in the Customary Land Bill which was passed by Parliament last week alongside other Land-related Bills.
While some have expressed satisfaction with the Bill, others seem not to understand it well and yet, others are of the view that it will bring chaos in their administrations.
However, chiefs is the Northern Region, notably Inkosi ya Makosi M’mbelwa V of Mzimba and Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe of Rumphi, said they need to consult their counterparts, including Paramount Chief Kyungu, so they speak with one voice on the matter.
In an interview yesterday, Senior Chief Kaomba of Kasungu described the Bill as a big improvement compared to the previous one, saying the passing of the Bill is a step in the right direction.
“The Bill is a good beginning. We may meet challenges in its implementation yes and we will make amendments as we go,” he said.
On the other hand, Senior Chief Kachindamoto of Dedza, while noting that many developments of the Bill happened while she was outside the country, said she is not amused with the Bill.
“Traditional leaders are the owners of the land, their chieftaincy history is enshrined in their land, it is their ancestors who first developed it,” she said.
Senior Chief Chikumbu of Mulanje said she does not know much about the Bill save for what she heard Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Atupele Muluzi say on radio.
Sharing Kaomba’s sentiments, Paramount Chief Lundu of Chikwawa said he is comfortable with the new Bill.
He said LandNet Malawi, a land right non-governmental organisation (NGO), sensitised him and other leaders to what the Bill is all about during several meetings that it conducted in the country.
He said: “The Bill is not entirely wrong. It just did not want us to be involved in some land squabbles but rather that there should be land committees we are supposed to form in our area development committees settling those squabbles.”
Senior Chief Chadza of Lilongwe said the Bill has several setbacks and his main focus is on the administration of customary land which he feels will bring many problems for the rulers.
Last week, before the Land Bills were passed, business came to a standstill in the National Assembly after opposition members of Parliament (MPs) walked out in protest at government’s decision to leave out proposed amendments to the Bill.
The opposition argued that some amendments will strip chiefs of their authority over land.