Ministry of Lands has repossessed a 1.78 hectare piece of land which it sold to Mulhakho wa Alhomwe two years ago on grounds that the grouping has not satisfied all the requirements in obtaining that plot.
The ministry has also reimbursed K840,705 to Mulhakho for the prime land located between Chichiri Shopping Mall and Chichiri Prison in Blantyre.
However, Mulhakho wa Alhomwes’s Administrator, Muchanankhwaye Mpuluka, has described the move as politically motivated and has since indicated they would challenge the decision in a court of law.
In a letter addressed to the Registered Trustees of Mulhakho wa Alhomwe dated August 9, 2012, reference number SR/BT/10/54, Regional Commissioner of Lands and Valuation(s) Kwame Ngwira relays the message to the grouping.
Ngwira informs the ethnic association of the government’s decision to get back the land for failing to pay premium and other related fees and duties within the required 60 days, beginning July 12, 2010.
“This office has observed that you have not been able to pay all the premium and other related fees and duties within the period stipulated in the offer letter.
“Kindly be advised that the said plot has been withdrawn from you due to your failure to pay all the premium and other related fees within the period stated in the offer letter,” reads part of the letter whose copy The Daily Times has.
Ngwira further enclosed a cheque from Public Land Development Treasury Fund whose current corporate account is held at Malawi Savings Bank’s Capital City Branch, paying back K840,705 which Mulhakho had initially paid for the land.
But Mpuluka, while confirming that there were outstanding payments as they were supposed to pay K5.9 million, viewed the move as politically motivated.
He wondered why the ministry never issued a warning or an ultimatum on the same.
“We smell a rat in this whole issue. Look, the dates show that the cheque was issued on August 7, 2012 in Lilongwe yet the letter was written two days later.
“This convinces us that they already had an ill motive behind for them to begin by signing the cheque giving back the money before coming up with the grounds,” Mpuluka said.
He further said the grouping would consult its lawyers to chart the way forward on the matter, saying even if they were to accept the money, the amount was far below the value it had two years ago due to devaluation of the Malawi kwacha.
“We can’t accept this cheque and we can’t allow them to withdraw the land from us. We still need to develop this land by constructing our offices and an amusement park. So, we will be engaging our lawyers to see that justice is done,” he said.
Asked on whether Mulkhakho’s headquarters at Chonde in Mulanje did not stand the same risk of being withdrawn in the same manner, Mpuluka said that land was a freehold which they legally bought after being duly leased to a road construction company.
When contacted to comment on the matter, Ngwira said he was locked up in a meeting in Lilongwe.
But a more senior official in the Ministry of Lands, who asked for anonymity, said as long as the withdrawal of the plot has been done on grounds of Mulhakho’s failure to satisfy all the requirements, the government was not at fault.
Mulhakho wa Alhomwe is a Lhomwe cultural heritage grouping whose patron was the late President Bingu wa Mutharika. It was founded in 2008.