Let me start by congratulating Vincent Wandale for winning his case in which he said he was unfairly dismissed. The self-proclaimed supreme leader of United States of Thyolo and Mulanje and Peoples’ Land Organisation (PLO), is true fighter that never relents.
Let me declare here that I admire Wandale’s fighting spirit. I wish many Malawians, including those who think they are sane than Wandale were able to fight like Wandale. He has been fighting for rights for people of Thyolo, Mulanje and Chiradzulu. It is my prayer, that one day the people of Thyolo, Mulanje and Chiradzulu will take back the land that was taken away from them against their will or through coercion.
Those who have called Wandale as a mad man did so probably based on his radical approach to taking back the land and others actually said he looks unkempt and often they use this to dismiss his cause.
However, Wandale shouldn’t be completely dismissed neither should what he is fighting for be dismissed by merely looking at his unkempt appearance. His grievances and those of his followers are valid and not mere attention seeking stunts. He has highlighted one of the critical issues that exists in Malawi, land problem. It is not just in Thyolo or Mulanje where people lack land or where their land has been taken by foreigners or the powerful amongst them, this is a countrywide problem.
His approach to addressing the grievances can be faulted but certainly not the cause.
The issue of land has always been such a sensitive topic in Malawi. The country is never short of stories of people who have hacked each other as they fight for land. Only a few of such stories are reported while the rest are unreported. If it’s not commercial land, it is customary land that they are fighting for. People want land to build, cultivate and earn a living from it.
It is sad that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) regime instead of finding a lasting solution to the land had totally ignored Wandale’s calls and simply decided to label Wandale as a mad man without even attempting to look at the bigger picture.
It is pleasing that now even some MPs are starting to talk about how some powerful businesspersons have grabbed all the prime land in Malawi’s cities. Some even gloat to Malawians that the country belongs to Malawians while the money belongs to them and all what the government can do is smile at them?
One can only hope that as now MPs are publicly denouncing the grabbing of land, they will be wise enough to amend the land laws to ensure that Malawians are given priority to own land.
This is a big issue that government needs to address before it gets out of hand. One day Malawians will wake up to find all the land sold to foreigners if the laissez faire approach to this issue by political leaders continues.