Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Kezzie Msukwa has described the deployment of three senior officials from the ministry to other ministries as a clean-up move.
Government yesterday issued a transfer memo which indicated that Commissioner for Lands Killian Palika and his deputy Mohammed Seleman have been moved to Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health respectively, while Lands registrar Apendezi Kachiwala has been deployed to Ministry of Local Government.
In an interview yesterday, the ministry spokesperson Enoch Chingoni confirmed the removal of the three senior officials, saying the transfers were normal.
He said: “I can confirm the transfers but they are normal transfers. It happens in government, there is nothing unusual about the transfers.”
But in a separate interview, Msukwa said the transfers are a move to clean his ministry.
Said the minister: “I want to clean the ministry of the rot that it has been perceived to be festering. For any rot, it means the managers have failed because it all happened under their watch. I need to bring in new management that is ready to work with us.”
He said there was a lot of mess in allocation and distribution of plots where some developers were given multiple allocations and some land was sold to people who cannot develop, among other things.
Msukwa said: “I want to create professionalism in the ministry. The clean-up will also go down to the bottom to get rid of those that have not been working professionally.”
Going forward, he said the ministry will hire people based on merit so that they can deliver quality work.
Msukwa, who is holding his first Cabinet portfolio, on July 17 this year inspected some of the plots believed to have been encroached or acquired illegally in Lilongwe.
Last week, his deputy Abida Mia said during a familiarisation tour that government will get back illegally acquired land in Zomba City.
She said: “I have discovered a lot of mess in distribution and allocation of plots. Some people have right documents, but are in protected areas while some don’t have documents of proof.”
The National Anti-Corruption Alliance (NAP) recently tipped Msukwa on how to curb systematic corruption surrounding acquisition of land in the country, saying the ministry should introduce stringent measures such as conducting a social audit on land property for each person in the country.
NAP chairperson Moses Mkandawire said there is rampant corruption and the ministry has not been honest enough when allocating land.
He said: “A preliminary report that we carried out some months ago has shown that there is a big problem of corruption in the Ministry of Lands. What has been happening requires social auditing on the assets people have.”
Mkandawire proposed the need for the minister to work with the Anti-Corruption Bureau and the civil society in sealing loopholes in land acquisition in both cities and district councils.