Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) has accused Mzuzu City Council (MCC) of endemic failure, laxity and wrongful decision-making in dealing with vendors who erect illegal structures in the city.
The sentiments follow violent incidents on September 15 2017 when thugs, suspected to be illegal vendors, torched MCC’s department of planning and development and vandalised the mayor’s home, allegedly to avenge demolition of their illegal structures in the city.
However, in a statement at the weekend signed by the commission’s chairperson Justin Dzonzi, MHRC noted that City councils in the country constantly engage in acts of demolishing illegally constructed structures.
“Strangely, the illegal buildings are built during the day in full view of members of the general public and city officials.
“However, it would appear that instead of stopping the illegal constructions, the city councils wait until when such structures are completed or after the squatters have been put to a considerable expense before taking any action,” reads part of the statement.
MHRC also noted that this seemingly reactive response creates surprise and anger on the part of the squatters, hence almost always results in acts of violence.
“Consequently, the commission views that MCC allowed the problem to grow at the time illegal erection of business structures was taking place. The commission considers the absence of timely action by the city as unreasonable and an instance of maladministration and incompetent discharge of its public functions.
“Allowing people to invest so much before reaching out to them with a position of the by-laws and regulations is not a proactive manner of dealing with local authority management,” it adds.
Northern Region Police deputy spokesperson Maurice Chapola said in an interview yesterday that police have not made any arrests since the incident three weeks ago.
He said police are still investigating the matter and will soon make arrests.
MCC chief executive officer Mcloud Kadammanja and mayor William Mkandawire could not be reached for comment.
However, earlier, authorities at the council said they were waiting for police to establish who torched the offices so that they report to Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development. n