Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development will start implementing the New Land Act in September, this year (2019), Deputy Commissioner for Lands, Euphemia Bota has said.
One of the participants seeking clarification from officials Bota making remarks at the meeting in Ngabu
The New Land legislation was enacted in 2016.
In an interview on the sidelines of a sensitisation meeting at Ngabu on Wednesday, Bota said the process of identifying a consultant was at an advanced stage.
The ministry intends to pilot implementation of the Act in eight selected districts, some of them being Chikwawa, Nsanje and Phalombe. The legislation seeks to ensure that all powers of customary land are vested in local communities.
In Chikwawa, the ministry engaged both area development committee (ADC) and village development committee (VDC) members in Senior Chief Ngabu's area who were sensitized on the new land related laws.
Bota said the most critical area that required sensitization of the members from both committees was to do with the Customary Land Act.
"In the past, especially in communities, the Act wasn't that much recognized and mostly the Customary Land laws were applied. During this period, we faced more challenges such as sureties as the land was used illegally," said Bota.
According to the Deputy Commissioner of Lands, the new Land Act advocates that the powers be vested in the communities.
"Everyone is part of the new Land Act enacted in 2016 and we are sensitizing people here because Chikwawa, the area of Chief Ngabu in particular, is one of the places the new land laws will be implemented on a pilot phase taking advantage of the introduction of the Shire Valley Transformation Programme," she explained.
"So, we expect that by September, the consultant will be looking at the land tenure issues in the project area, thereby implementing it," Bota said.
The Lands Deputy chief, therefore, called on communities to register their land as they would likely experience more benefits through ownership, considering that the land could be sub-leased and make money out of it for a specific period.
One of the participants of the sensitisation, Eunice Nkamwalekani said the interface was quite beneficial.
"Previously, we carelessly sold our land but the training today will help both our generation and the one to come to understand and apply the Act," she said.
Senior Group Village Head Chizenga, whose area has been earmarked for the pilot phase, hailed the ministry for engaging the two governance institutions (ADC and VDC members) in the sensitisation meeting.
Chizenga said since time immemorial, the area has always been affected by land boundary wrangles and ownership, which he hoped, the Act would address.
"From this interface, we are all going across sensitizing our subjects so that they register their land in large numbers," Chizenga said.