Barely three months after coming out of a bruising legal battle over land in Ngumbe, Blantyre, Malawi Housing Corporation (MHC) is again fighting over land in Mandala in the same city.
The State-owned housing developer has cancelled a lease and withdrawn a plot it had earlier sold to an investor Karamat Chaudhry of Corporate Trading Limited.
Ministry of Lands queried MHC over how the plot was sold and advised that it be withdrawn and the transaction be cancelled.
The developer is erecting an office complex next to Mandala Flats at Kristwick behind new Puma Energy Service Station, a few metres from the Masauko Chipembere Highway.
In a letter, signed by MHC acting chief executive officer Jordan Chipatala, the corporation advised Chaudhry to move out of the plot (number BC215/1) following cancellation of the deal.
Chipatala has also directed that Blantyre City Council take action to ensure that the new developer leaves the site.
However, in an interview on Wednesday, Chaudhry said he will continue with the project, since he acquired the land legally.
He said his company has since challenged the MHC letter and has taken the case to court.
Said Chaudhry: “We received the letter but we have also responded to the letter through our lawyers.
“So the ball is in Malawi Housing Corporation’s court, so they have not responded.”
He also said there are so many gaps in the MHC letter which need clarification.
“This matter is also in court. So, we are not leaving the plot,” said Chaudhry.
Registrar of the High Court and the Supreme Court of Appeal Gladys Gondwe said any party’s submissions in a matter which is in court cannot be made public until the matter is heard.
In their letter, MHC claim that it is the Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development that has directed that all developments on the disputed plot be stopped as the lease was done irregularly.
MHC spokesperson Ernestina Lunguzi said they followed all procedures in selling the land.
In a WhatsApp response on June 4 this year, Lunguzi said her office decided to sell the plot because it was an infill plot.
She wrote: “The developer paid the requested amount in full. The corporation followed the necessary procedure by giving the developer an offer letter, which he responded by paying the requested amount.
“The plot was not advertised because it was an infill plot. The corporation advertises plots where there are many and it is a project. The corporation does not consult the ministry in the allocation of its land because the corporation is also a landlord and as such it administers its own land. The land in question belonged to MHC.”
But on April 6 2021 Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa confirmed that his ministry would investigate how the plot was sold after some concerns were raised.
He said at the time: “The Commissioner of Lands and the Commissioner for Physical Planning went and investigated.
“They have halted the construction pending desk research on the matter and a decision will be made after the desk research.”