President Peter Mutharika said on Tuesday Malawi can only develop if it urgently develops key reforms that will ensure strong legal and institutional frameworks for land management.
The President was speaking at Kamuzu Palace in Lilongwe when he met officials and members of LandNet, a land justice coalition that incorporates over 40 civil society organisations, academia, land and natural resource consultants, traditional leaders and legal experts.
The meeting came at a time Mutharika is yet to assent to four Land-related Bills that Parliament recently passed.
The over-arching Land Bill is key among the Bills, which comprise those on Physical Planning, Land Survey and Customary Land.
“The Bills are now with me, but I have not yet assented to them. And your request to see me is timely,” the President said, noting that LandNet was firmly encouraging him to append his signature to the Bills.
He regretted the fact that although Malawians had set up commissions, consulted nation-wide and made great advancement in forging user-friendly laws over land reforms and management two decades ago, there was indecision towards implementing the bold changes needed.
He, however, commended his inter-ministerial committee that is sensitising people across the country on how much ordinary Malawians will benefit from the Land Bills once they are passed.
Mutharika urged Lands, Housing and Urban Development Minister Atupele Muluzi to continue working hard to counter any misinformation regarding the Bills.
In his address, LandNet Board of Trustees chair Steven Nanthambwe and LandNet national coordinator Emmanuel Mlaka stressed the need for the presidential assent to the Land Bills, saying the hope-for legislation would facilitate greater national development through better land management.
“The long period [of a two-decade wait] has been worthwhile, as it has ensured thorough consultations with various stakeholders. It is, in LandNet’s opinion, that the Land Bills that are with you now are a lot better than the existing policies and laws,” Nanthambwe stressed.