Deputy Minister of Lands Abida Mia has said the ministry will institute a probe into how several hectares of public land belonging to Mpemba Staff Development Institute (SDI) in Blantyre was acquired by private developers.
Speaking on Friday after touring the land, Mia assured the college that her ministry would follow the paper trail to appreciate how public land got into individuals’ possession.
She said: “It is worrying to see land that belongs to the institution being grabbed and encroached. We are instituting investigations and within seven days, we should know exactly what happened.”
Mia’s action followed local media reports which revealed that a private developer had acquired part of SDI land and was demarcating plots and selling to individuals to construct residential houses.
Mpemba SDI, formerly Staff Training College, is a government training, consulting and research institution under the Human Resource Management and Development in the Office of the President and Cabinet established in 1962 to train the country’s civil service.
The land was reserved for the construction of additional institutional structures as part of the institute’s growth.
According to letters and other documents we have seen, 5.13 hectares of land was allocated to SDI in January 2008 by the liquidated Malawi Development Corporation (MDC) Limited, which used to manage it.
During her tour, Mia held talks with chiefs and SDI management and assured them that the ministry will “definitely find a solution to the problem”.
“Land issues have become delicate everywhere but as a ministry we will ensure that these issues are rectified. The challenge is that there are many issues piled up, it’s a mess.
“If people want to acquire land, let them follow all proper procedures. Land grabbing will not be tolerated. We are here to protect the people,” said Mia.
She also expressed concern that some chiefs, who have been siding with SDI management, were being intimidated by some private developers.
“We have looked at the issues and we will investigate further and find a way forward so that they are assisted,” said the deputy minister.
SDI acting director Peter Muthete commended the ministry’s action, saying “this is what we have been longing for”.
He said: “As SDI we did all the paperwork. We have officially complained to relevant authorities after discovering that the college land was being encroached but all our efforts have been in vain. We want justice on this matter.”
In November 2019, five disgruntled chiefs that included group village heads Somba, Duncan and Mkwapatira and village heads Jiya and Ziboda lodged a complaint to the Anti-Corruption Bureau to institute a probe into the matter after they suspected foulplay on how private developers obtained SDI land.
An indenture of conveyance dated January 17 2008 between MDC Limited (in voluntary liquidation) and the then minister responsible for Lands developed by Kainja and Dzonzi Attorneys at Law indicates the SDI grabbed land was registered under deed number 77174.