Malawi: New Land Laws Excite Community Leaders in Nkhotakota

Nkhotakota — The new land law passed by Parliament has brought jubilation to communities in Nkhotakota.

Expressing their excitement on the sidelines of a sensitization meeting organized by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development to brief stakeholders on the new land laws at Traditional Authority (TA) Mwansambo headquarters in the district, the people said the law was retaining their almost lost inheritance.

The law which was passed in 2016 and assented to and gazetted in 2017, among others, provide for lifetime ownership of land for locals and restricts sales and longer leases of land to foreigners.

In the new Act, all land is vested in perpetuity in the Republic, a departure from the 1965 Act, which vested land in the president.

The Act gives responsibility for customary land management and administration to the people in the local communities and Traditional Authorities.

Making a presentation on the laws, Team leader of Land Reforms Implementation Unit in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Davie Chilonga said the purpose of the new Act is to replace the old one and harmonize the existing legal framework with the aspirations of the Malawi National Land Policy (MNLP).

He said the Act gives greater meaning of what land is, classifies land tenure types, gives guidance on acquisition of tenure, conditions of grant, disposal of customary estate and land dispute resolutions, among others.

According to Chilonga, in any grant of private land to any person who is not a citizen of Malawi, whether by sale, conveyance, assignment or lease, transfer or other transaction shall not be for an estate greater than lease of fifty years, unless otherwise stated in writing.

He said the Act restricts sale of private land to persons who are not citizens of Malawi, whether by private transaction, or by tender, Auction or other means.

The Act cover issues of compensation on temporally use and acquisition of customary land, whose owner suffers disturbance, loss or damage.

Chilonga informed the community leaders, who included Group Village Heads and Village Heads that the Ministry would embark on a free land title registration.

Reacting to the news, Ruth Lufeyo from Zambwe Village, TA Mwansambo said she was happy with the new law since it guarantees ownership of one's land forever and therefore, continued inheritances by children and relatives.

"This is good because we were losing our land to foreigners who were offering us huge sums of money. However, with this law in place, it means the land will still be ours and we will continue to reap the benefits forever" she said.

Concurring with her, Richard Lyson, of Pempho Village, TA Mwansambo in the district said the country had gone in the right direction with the new laws since land will not be taken away from their rightful owners easily.

He expressed hope that land disputes will be resolved easily.

The Ministry will pilot a land title registration exercise in Denje Village, TA Mwansambo in the district, before rolling out to other areas.

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