Some traditional leaders in Chikhwawa on Friday obtained an injunction against village head Konzere, stopping him from distributing land to his subjects.
The land wrangle dates back to early last year when the villagers realised that former Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister Clement Khembo wanted to lease the land to open Mtemadanga Sugar Project in partnership with an American company, Genesis Global Commodities.
Over 300 villagers protested the lease, saying it would take away their farm land and source of other materials, but in August 2012 Khembo obtained an injunction which stopped the villagers from utilising the land.
The High Court dismissed the injunction, saying the residents were free to use the land which gave Konzere the mandate to distribute it to his subjects for farming and animal grazing.
But three traditional leaders—group village heads Khungubwe, Nduna and T/A Ngowe—who had offered the land to Khembo, obtained a court order on January 4 2013, stopping the land distribution.
The developments were disclosed by Bishop Rabson Mbewe and Konzere when human rights activists, Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) executive director Undule Mwakasungula and his Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) counterpart Gift Trapence and Jessie Kabwila visited the area.
Reads the injunction: The defendants, their agents and/or servants or whosoever acting on their behalf be restrained from redistributing the customary land in the jurisdiction of the plaintiffs and trespassing/encroaching on the customary land within the jurisdiction of the plaintiffs being land which was allocated to Mr and Mrs Khembo until the final determination of this matter or until further order of this court.”
Kabwila told the gathering at Konzere Teachers Development Centre that it was sad that most women are victims during land disputes and called for laws that would protect vulnerable people.
Mwakasungula said it was surprising that issues of land disputes are becoming rampant in the country.
“It is not only here in Chikhwawa where there are these land disputes. It is surprising that government and chiefs are perpetrating this violation of human rights because you have a right as citizens of this country to own land,” said Mwakasungula.