National Bank of Malawi Plc (NBM), administrators of the estate of founding president Hastings Kamuzu Banda, has taken to court Chamwabvi Investment Limited and Agri-Courier Limited, over sale of Shire Valley Cattle Ranch in Chikwawa.
NBM Plc has also obtained an injunction stopping Chamwabvi Investment Limited—one of the beneficiaries of the estate—and privately owned Agri-Courier from carrying out any activity on the farm situated at Paiva Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Ngabu in Chikwawa.
Court documents of Land Case number 53 of 2017 that Nation Online has seen, show that the administrators are arguing that Kamuzu Banda did not sell the said land totalling 4 636 hectares or part of it.
The High Court of Malawi appointed NBM Plc as Kamuzu estate administrators on November 8 2010 following in-fighting between the then administrators, Jane Dzanjalimodzi—Kamuzu’s great grandniece, Eunice Nsaliwa and Cecilia Tamanda Kadzamira who was Kamuzu’s long time confidante and official government hostess until 1994.
A letter exhibited in the case written by lawyers for NBM Plc to the Attorney General (AG) dated October 24 2017 shows that Agri-Courier bought 1079.933 hectares from Chamwabvi Investment Limited in 2015 and that the payments were made between February 2015 and January 29 2016.
“The payments were made to Chamwabvi Investment Limited. During this period, our client was the administrator of the estate and Chamwabvi Investment Ltd had no authority whatsoever to sell this land or otherwise deal with it,” reads part of the letter to the AG signed by NBM Plc lawyers, Chibambo & Company.
According to the court documents, NBM Plc is seeking relief from the court to declare that the estate of Kamuzu is the owner of Shire Valley Cattle Ranch.
The administrators further want the court to declare the acquisition of the ranch by Agri-Courier Limited from Chamwabvi was fraudulent.
The story came to light in October last year after new owners of the ranch moved their machinery to start working on the land and also demanded that employees of Chamwabvi leave.
This forced NBM Plc to sue Chamwabvi Investment Limited and Agri-Courier and obtained an injunction granted by High Court Judge Dingiswayo Madise, demanding that they all vacate the farm claiming that as administrators they were not aware of any sale.
Lawyers for National Bank as well as Agri-Courier, Happy Mwagomba and Kuleza Phokoso, respectively, declined to comment saying they were not mandated by their clients.
“We are aware of the case. We were served with the documents but we are under instruction from our client not to speak on the matter at the moment,” said Phokoso.
But lawyer for the Kamuzu family, Ralph Mhone, said he was not aware of the matter because the Chamwabvi people have not informed him that they were served with anything.