Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa has deplored fights over land which at times have turned ugly, especially in Lilongwe and warned land grabbers that the law will take its course.
His sentiments come barely three days after the capital city witnessed yet another running battle between police and community members who invaded undeveloped private land belonging to Imperial Heights Limited.
Msukwa said no one has the right to take away land from a legal owner even where the land seems idle.
In the particular case that sparked the recent protests, the minister said: “The owner has 140 title deeds for individual plots in the area. You know development takes time and he is also current on the payment of land rates. He is current on the planning permission. So you could not call it idle.”
During a visit to Area 46 where people had encroached the land, some community members claimed that the Ministry of Lands had earlier indicated that “idle land should be repossessed”.
Records show that Imperial Heights Limited registered the land in question for mixed use to cater for residential, industrial and commercial developments.
The High Court of Malawi has since granted a permanent order to Imperial Heights Limited against Lyson Lenos Daudi and other unknown persons restraining them, their families, servants, agents “from using, renting or leasing, cultivating and developing the land”.
Some developers and land owners, especially those of Asian descent, have become an easy target and are living in fear amid the persistent land grabbing taking place in the city.
A senior government official blames the rise in the number of cases of encroachment on politics where party supporters think they are more entitled and deserving to take away what they think is idle land from legal owners.
In October last year, communities around Kumbali Country Lodge in Lilongwe’s Area 44 descended on the lodge, looted and set part of it ablaze after being forced out of the encroached land.