The Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) has suspended all land transactions in Malawi until further notice.
As a result, some lawyers in Blantyre and Lilongwe cities were on Wednesday turned back when they went to Lands offices to transact land issues on behalf of their clients.
According to lawyers interviewed, they were told there was a directive from OPC, but no reasons were given.
A source at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development said the OPC directive is that all lands transactions be stopped until after burial of the late president Bingu wa Mutharika on April 23 2012.
Chief Secretary to the Government Bright Msaka, when asked about the basis for the directive, referred the matter to Principal Secretary for Lands Ivy Luhanga.
But Luhanga said she had no comment on the matter.
Said Luhanga: “Where did you hear that from? Did your sources not tell you the reasons? I have no comment on this. A directive is a directive, when it is issued, you simply comply.”
But the ministry source said even high-ranking officials at the ministry had no idea why such a directive has been issued.
It effectively stops all land transactions among individuals and companies that were in the process of buying or selling land.
One lawyer who wanted to act on behalf of his client speculated that government might be suspicious of some land transactions by the previous administration and intends to launch investigations.
A Blantyre-based banker regretted the decision, saying it is not in the best interest of the nation.
Said the banker: “I donâ€™t think this decision [the suspension of transactions] is reasonable considering that all lending institutions cannot request for searches, register legal charges/mortgages to secure credit facilities by customers. What this means is that the lending business where security is property will come to a complete halt.”
The banker suggested that instead of a blanket suspension, the OPC should only have banned sale or transfer of suspicious transactions.