Newly-promoted Senior Chief Ngolongoliwa of Thyolo has warned leaders of two groups that are fighting to take over white-owned estate land in Thyolo and Mulanje districts that their action may trigger serious poverty in the future.
Ngolongoliwa said this last Friday in an interview at his Ntunda Wosema headquarters in Thyolo on the sidelines of a meeting of chiefs drawn from across the country to discuss issues affecting their work.
Two months ago, groups calling themselves People’s Land Organisation (PLO) and Citizens for Protections of Mulanje (CPM), which have been advocating for the release of all idle land in tea estates petitioned President Peter Mutharika to intervene in the matter.
Ngolongoliwa described the move by the two groups as going too far, saying it might cost the districts opportunities that come with estates.
He said from the time Malawi gained independence, estates have been the source of income that circulates in the districts and create jobs for the majority of the population. He said Malawi should learn from the Zimbabwe scenario, where eviction of whites in estates collapsed the economy.
“How many people are employed in these estates? What will happen to the estate employees and their families? We need to think in this realm before making any decision,” he said.
In an earlier interview, one of the leaders fighting to repossess the land, Bon Kalindo, insisted that engaging the President was the last resort, but argued that what they are asking for cannot result in chasing the white farmers.
“We do not want them to go. It is possible to address the issues amicably. I am sure the president will facilitate this,” said Kalindo.
Ngolongoliwa attributed the situation to lack of team work among chiefs. He said the chiefs own the land and they were supposed to be consulted before engaging the President.
Senior Chief Lukwa of Kasungu said they feel united after the meeting and said working as a team can restore their powers and reclaim their space in the running of both community and national affairs. n