Irate villagers from the central Malawi district of Nkhotakota have forced government to suspend implementation of a multi-million dollar sugarcane project aimed at improving lives of peasant farmers in the area.
The villagers, who call themselves Mkhuto, from group village head (GVH) Mgwinthi, on Monday met Nkhotakota District Council officials, who told them government has suspended implementation of the project in the area following tension which led to acts of violence.
The protesters were against government’s decision to introduce sugarcane plantations in the areas of GVH Mwazanduwa, Mgwinthi and Kada.
Nkhotakota district commissioner Charles Thombozi told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that government has only suspended the project in the area of GVH Mgwinthi.
“A team from Nkhotakota District Council reached an agreement with the communities concerned on January 28 2013 that government should proceed implementing the project in GVH Mwazanduwa and Kada,” Thombozi said.
Government wanted to move the people in the targeted area after properly compensating them to introduce an irrigation system in the area.
Nkhunga Police spokesperson Laban Makalani said the situation worsened recently after some villagers demolished three houses and looted assorted properties besides closing the M5 Road and smashing vehicles, including one belonging to Nkhunga Police Station.
“Two of the houses which were demolished were for village head Kanthumdende whose real name is Sandres Phiri and Davie Kamanga, a community policing chair for Kanyenda Community Policing Forum,” Makalani said. —Mana