aside The Issue of Chiefs and land ownership

This past November, while most of us were engrossed in issues that barely concern us i.e. wallowing in the misery of the aftermath of the United States Presidential elections results, the government of the Republic of Malawi was finalizing on passing the much contested Land bills in Parliament following the assenting of the said bills by our president H.E Proff A.P.Mutharika.


Before you switch to another site and curse at me for publishing what you presume as not our usual material on your beloved Pabwalo, give me ten minutes:



In a nutshell particularly the Land Registration act of parliament frameworks the cataloging of customary land which was previously under ‘Public lands’ to now ‘Private lands’.


Customary land is all lands under jurisdiction of traditional authourities, whether used communally or individually by people mainly in the rural areas of Malawi…malo olamulilidwa ndi mafumu


Now pay attention,


Previously all these lands as part of Public Lands were owned by the President but under jurisdiction of chiefs just as it was in the colonial days when all customary lands were under ownership of the British crown with delegated powers to our chiefs as per the colonial government’s policy of indirect rule.


In those Nyasaland days, private land was demarcated into freeholds (were huge tracts of land was given to loyal subjects of the British Empire as a token of appreciation for their services…achina Blackwood ndi azinzawo) and lease holds, which anybody could rent from the government for a maximum total of 99 years. THIS APPLIED TO ALL LANDS WITHIN THE TERRITORIES OF NYASALAND.


Come Ngwazi Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda and our independence as the nation of Malawi, only thing that changed in the laws was that where it was stated ‘Nyasaland ‘was now ‘Malawi’ and where there was ‘HRH Queen’ was now ‘ H.E State President’


Palibe chinasintha ata!…same system just different masters, even the free holds were maintained, hence we still have large foreign owned estates particularly in Mulanje and Thyolo.


As such since 1891 (the colonization of the areas known as Nyasaland, present day Malawi) customary lands have always been owned by the supreme state authority, since then it’s been the British Monarchs, Angwazi, Atcheya, A Bingu, Amayi and A Pitala. Customary land has never belonged to any of our Chiefs, kaya achiNgoni, Chewa, lambya etcetera…don’t believe me? Go read the constitution or better yet go ask any traditional chief to show you any legit proof of customary land ownership, olo map a dera lawo…anthuwa alibe, chomwe amangodziwa ndizapakamwa basi kuti dera la uje limayambira pati, kuthera pati…no properly defined boundaries


As such all lands inhabited and farmed by rural communities have been owned by the President, but looked after by the chiefs, …tisiyanise umwini ndi ulamuliro.


Till now,


In the new land acts, the president has conceded ownership of all customary lands inhabited and farmed by locals to the ‘Republic’…that means you, me and every citizen of this country. Meaning that the government shall be issuing ownership certificates to customary land users …azigogo anthu kumudziku nawo alandirako ma title deed


All chiefs at TA level will be issued a certificate outlining their governing areas and at group village head level there shall be elected a land committee (chaired by group village heads) which shall be in charge of sorting out land issues but all conflicts and cases shall be dealt with at the TA level.


Also there shall be a lands office at each TA with a Lands officer in charge of surveying and record keeping. This is truly in line with Malawi’s decentralization policy as compared to previously were all land surveyors, records etc are housed centrally at the Ministry of Lands and its regional offices.


Now, because there shall be existence of land committees and lands officer in the communities, some parties are claiming that the new land acts are daylight robbing power and land ownership away from our chiefs who have always been stewards of our culture and identity.


But how?


In the first place how can the government steal something it has always owned?kukamba mu malamulotu


Secondly in contrast to these dubious claims, the new land acts are actually empowering chiefs and facilitating ownership (via registration) of land for not only chiefs but also common citizens.


By issuance of an ownership certificate the common citizen will be protected from corrupt chiefs and officials who are associated with land grabbing incidents, thus land transfers and deals will be done in a transparent, accountable and inclusive manner, all for the benefit of the primary user of the land…sizimene zimachitikazi zokuti mafumu akumagulisa malo a anthu mwachinyengo to foreigners


I wonder why some chiefs are in the fore front opposing something that will benefit and protect their subjects…ena mwa iwo mwina chifukwa anunkhiza kuti zachinyengo zimene akhala akuchita zikupita kokutha


Then we have Inkosi Ya Makhosi M’mbelwa and his so called Mzimba Kingdom stating that they will have none of it as historically they have always been different from the rest of Malawi…zimene anagwirizana ndi angerezi ndi zosiyana ndi ife tonse , akutero kuchinenero chawo


But what you forget your Royal highness is that king or no king of a kingdom, you are still a Traditional Authority in the structures of the government of Malawi and that Mzimba has not developed in isolation from the rest of Malawi ever since, we have all contributed, so why should you demand preferential parallel policies from the rest of us?


If we go down to history none of us are even the original inhabitants of this country, our genocidal forefathers made sure to exterminate the indigenous ‘Abatwa’ then proceeded to displace and dominate each other depending on who was stronger…thus in the Mzimba case: the Tumbuka annihilated the Abatwa and got themselves subjugated to the Ngoni.


So what basis do the Mzimba Ngoni chiefs have? Their arguments would be more legit if it was directed to Kwazulu Natal where their ancestors originated from before being unceremoniously chucked out…but even there ndizosamvekabe


Nanga bwanjiso ma agreement ndi azungu wo sakutionesa? Tizingomva za pakwama?


If they indeed have a legit argument then I guess all tribal groupings in this country should also get preferential treatment because otherwise we are just endorsing imaginary Ngoni supremacy…with all due respect to my Mzimba peeps but I feel your leaders should stop operating in fantasy and come back to reality. The Ngoni Kingdom wasn’t even the biggest in this area, the biggest was the Maravi which extended to the Indian ocean.


Pa ma bills okhawa a President ndi Atupele anayiphula!


Pabwalo is politically neutral , and any perceived endorsement of whichever politicians or political parties is purely coincidental….but we do accept gifts of beer from any man, woman, child and politician

One comment

  1. Really had no idea about this sort of history. If the TAs can finally be identified like this and keep proper records then the country will be able to know where exactly things are going wrong and things are going right. And with such a big move, hopefully civilians who have no interest in this sort of thing are more able to take part in shaking and changing the country.

    That was really informative. A nicely written article


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