Government has dismissed rumours that it will provide K54 million compensation per hectare to the people of Magwero in Lilongwe as promised by erstwhile Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration.
The area has been earmarked for development into an industrial park and some people may be relocated.
But on Sunday, Minister of Lands Kezzie Msukwa told a gathering of villagers that may be affected by the project that the promise by DPP of K54 million compensation was not in line with the law.
He said: “It is better to tell voters the truth because the truth sets people free. I consulted the former minister of Lands [Symon Vuwa Kaunda] and asked him if he promised that they would give people K 54 million per hectare, and he said ‘no’.’’
Msukwa said that during the last regime, as the country was going towards the May 2019 Tripartite Elections, the former government promised the K54 million compensations and as a result, whenever Lands officers visited the area for surveys, the villagers would stone them, saying they wanted their compensation.
‘’People were promised K54 million per hectare but it is not legal. So, we came to tell people the truth to pacify the area so that our officers can start developing the place and doing the assessment so that they can give them the compensations that are really due to them,’’ the Minister added.
On his part, Lilongwe City Centre Member of Parliament Alfred Jiya, under whose jurisdiction the area falls, said that the former Minister of Lands told the people that they would receive K 54 million per hectare.
‘’When he told us that, I went to read the Constitution of Malawi and went to the Act which talks about land but I never found that people are supposed to receive K54 million per hectare as land compensation,’’ he said
Jiya said instead, the Constitution empowers the ministry to deal with land according to the law.
Government has allocated to Malawi Investment and Trade Centre over 400 hectares of land in Area 55, Lilongwe for the development of an industrial area.
During the meeting, Traditional Authority Chitukula hailed government for showing a keen interest to develop the area.
Minister of Information Gospel Kazako has since urged people to give government time to develop the area and stop tussling over the issue of land.