BLANTYRE--Over 500 farmers in Chikhwawa have appealed to Pres Joyce Banda and human rights activists to intervene in their dispute with former legislator Clement Khembo whom they accuse of kicking them out from their ancestral land.
The development follows the acquisition of an injunction by the former legislator restraining people of Traditional Authority Ngowe from cultivating on the 10,000 hectares piece of land which he, together with Genesis Global Commodities, a Unite States of America-based company, plan to establish a sugarcane plantation named Mtemadanga Distrubutors Limited.
The dispute between the former minister of disability and the elderly in the Bingu wa Mutharika administration and the residents, dates back to 2011 when the latter was given a notice to relinquish farming activities to pave way for the new project.
The development didn’t please the communities who reacted angrily and warned Khembo to stop developing the land as they questioned how the former legislator acquired it.
Khembo’s injunction from the High Court acquired on August 22 stops Lapson Mbewe and others from interfering with any activities on the land.
Mbewe is a pastor of Redemption Village Bible Teaching Ministries at Ngabu who has all along condemned Khembo’s intentions, arguing that poor villagers depend on the piece of land for their livelihood.
He told Malawi News Agency that he has advised the community to remain calm until all matters are resolved.
“I will consult my lawyers on the issue to see on how best they can help us on the matter,” said Pastor Mbewe adding that justice will prevail on the matter.
Khembo through his attorney Chizumila Msiska and Company insists the land in question belongs to Mtemadanga Distributors Limited as it was allocated through consultations with chiefs and after following all legal processes.
But Khembo’s claim was disputed by most chiefs in the area with Senior Group Village Headman Konzere wondering:
“How can someone acquire land without our knowledge? We as chiefs can categorically say there is something behind the land issue. People have owned it since their fore fathers.”
The people have since appealed to Pres Banda and human rights groups to intervene on their behalf.
----©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.