Thursday, January 16, 2014

(STICKY) (NYASATIMES) Thyolo Residents Demand Land Redistribution - Police Arrest 11 Over Demo
January 15, 2014
Maurice Nkawihe, Nyasa Times National

COMMENT - This is becoming an issue all over Africa, especially after the IMF/World Bank have given the green light to handing over millions of hectares to 'foreign investors'. The people want and need their land and mines back, they don't need 'donor aid' or charitable giving. This also shows that land reform is not 'Mugabe's land reform', it is something people have been fighting for over a century. Also read: (MALAWI VOICE) Angry Thyolo Farmers Want Whites Off The Estates…March To Police
Written By: Malawi Voice on January 15, 2014.

Police in Thyolo have arrested 11 people who led a demonstration some irate villagers staged on Wednesday afternoon in a quest to repossess 250, 000 hectares of land from various tea estates in the district.

The demonstration, sprouted from Chibwana village, was organised by a Thyolo-based Peoples Land Organisation (PLO), which is leading calls to repossess idle land from tea estates to be distributed to some of subsistence farmers that have little or no land to cultivate.

Thyolo Police Public Relations Officer, Edith Kachotsa told Nyasa Times in an interview that the villagers did not seek permission to stage the demonstration.

According to Kachotsa, the villagers led by PLO staged another unlawful demonstration on Monday but they were forced to call it off after being advised by the police to seek permission before taking their grievances to streets.

However, on Wednesday the irate villagers decided to bypass the law once more and started protesting; chanting songs threatening authorities of civil unrest if not permitted to take over 25,000 hectares of land in some of the tea estates that has been idle for about 50 years.

“We have since charged those arrested with unlawful assembly and will be in court soon. They (eleven) are the ones who led today’s protest. They were advised to call it off but they ignored the advice, and they even threatened to set tea fields on fire if we don’t allow them to proceed; but we successfully defused the protest without any problem,” Kachotsa said.

She added: “This is a long standing issue; they (PLO) have been at District Commissioner’s (DC) office several times, but it seems they are failing to reach compromise as the villagers are not relenting on their mission to repossesses the said land, which they claim has never been cultivated for over 50 years”.

Kachotsa disclosed there were no riots or looting during today’s demonstration, which started at around 1pm and was stopped at around 4pm.

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At 6:50 PM , Blogger MrK said...

(MALAWI VOICE) Angry Thyolo Farmers Want Whites Off The Estates…March To Police
Written By: Malawi Voice on January 15, 2014.

Hundred of farmers from Thyolo district today marched to the police station where they presented a petition which demanded that all the white estate owners should hand over the land to black Malawians.

Before presenting the petition to Thyolo police, the angry farmers marched on white-owned farmlands, initially with pangas and bulks of trees.
tea“We demand that these white estate owners should off our land or the president should intervene by equitably distribute these lands, so that we should also benefit,” said the leader of the group Joseph Mwitere, calling themselves Peoples’ Land Organisation, adding “We will take law into our hands, if government fails to act within two weeks.”

Officer-Incharge for Thyolo Police a Mr. Chalera confirmed of the development saying the farmers presented the petition after misunderstanding arose with the estate owners.

“What happened was that, these farmers encroached some tea-estates, so when the estate owners hit back, they became angry hence coming here.”

At 8:03 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Exploring the Politics of Land Reforms in Malawi: A Case Study of the Community Based Rural Land Development Programme (CBRLDP)
by Blessings Chinsinga

Discussion Paper Series
Number Twenty
September 2008

IPPG Programme Office, IDPM, School of Environment & Development
University of Manchester, Arthur Lewis Building, 2.023, Oxford Road
Manchester M13 9PL; Telephone 0161 306 6438;

" The advocates of democracy attributed the crippling levels of poverty, inter alia, to the inequitable and unjust postcolonial patterns of land tenure that promoted excessive alienation of land from the smallholder farmers. It was therefore promised that land redistribution would be addressed as an integral part of the poverty reduction agenda should the advocates of democratisation be ushered into power. "

" The current patterns of land distribution can be attributed to the postcolonial land policies which instead of addressing the iniquities and injustices of the colonial era simply reinforced them; this was in sharp contrast to the rhetoric in the lead up to the attainment of independence in 1964 (N’gong’ola, 1982; Mkandawire, 1993). While some reforms were implemented, they did not ‘herald a transformation of Malawi’s political economy, but largely retained colonial land policies and laws’ (Kanyongolo, 2005:127). "

At 8:03 PM , Blogger MrK said...

" These sectors differed in terms of landholding sizes and types of crops which they could grow. While those engaged in estate farming were at liberty to cultivate a variety of crops without limit, those within the smallholder sub-sector were legally prohibited from producing such cash crops as burley tobacco, sugar and tea to avoid providing competition. Lack of competition would enable the elites (politicians, senior civil servants, senior parastatal employees and chiefs) to reap substantial benefits from international trade for further reinvestment in the agricultural sector. This further helped to guarantee estates a readily available pool of cheap labour since keeping smallholder farmers out of the lucrative international markets ensured that the majority of them remained at subsistence level thereby keeping the option of working as tenants on the estates attractive (Harrigan, 2001 and Chinsinga, 2007). Perhaps more critically important is the fact that the land market that was created following the 1967 laws provided only for one-way transferability of land, land could only be transferred to the estate sector, and usually with only a modest compensation.
It is estimated that under the aegis of this particular policy, the number of estates increased from 1,200 in 1979 to 14,671 in 1989 covering one million of hectares of fertile arable land but with considerably sub-optimal productivity levels (Chirwa, 1998; Stambuli, 2002). The resultant skewed land distribution pattern is aptly captured by the World Bank (2003), which estimates that about 1.8 to 2 million smallholder farmers cultivate on average 1 hectare compared with 30, 000 estates cultivating 1.1 million hectares with an average landholding of between 10 to 500 hectares; the 2002 land policy estimates that about 28% of the country’s cultivable land, representing approximately 2.6 million hectares, lies idle in the rural areas and much of it falls under the freehold category (GoM, 2002). "

At 8:19 PM , Blogger MrK said...

5 the politics oF lAnd reForm under the cbrldp in perspective

" There is no doubt that the project has enabled the landless or near landless from both Thyolo and within Machinga to acquire land at least adequate for cultivation of food to last the throughout the year and with considerable surplus for sale. This is widely acknowledged by the beneficiaries, some of who confessed that ‘they are no longer sleeping on empty stomachs because they are able to cultivate more than just enough for purposes of subsistence’.7 From trust to trust this story line was repeated almost word for word, underscoring the fact that access to land under the auspices of the CBRLDP had enhanced their productivity levels. Reported maize yields averaged between 30 and 50 bags per household across all the trusts covered in this study; according to Chirwa (2008), the average maize production among beneficiary households increased from 200kgs before resettlement to 1454kgs after the project in 2005/2006 and yields were significantly higher after the project (2269kgs per hectare) compared to 962kgs per hectare before the project. The CBRLDP has also had a positive impact on household incomes, increasing by about 40% after one year of relocation. "

At 8:20 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Resistance to the CBRLDP Land Reform Programme

" Land invasion has a very long history in Malawi, as already indicated above. Kanyongolo (2005) argues that land invasions have occurred on both publicly and privately owned land: people have encroached into forestry reserves, national parks, land surrounding presidential palaces and private farms. For instance, up to 202 people occupied the Liwonde Forestry Reserve in Machinga, a district which is supposedly to have plentiful of land that can be shared to the land hungry from other parts of the country; in the land invasions, farms previously owned by Dr. Banda, the first head of state, are particularly targeted. Land disputes taking the form of encroachment reflects, inter alia, the marked divergence of the land reform discourse between the official policy and the popular view or conception at the grassroots level. The grassroots’ understanding of a fair and just land reform programme is that it should champion restitution instead of people from other districts being prioritised as beneficiaries of the initiative. This would only make sense if and only if the people in districts deemed as having excess land are satisfied with their landholding sizes. The encroachments and land invasions are justified as simply a means of getting back land that was unfairly expropriated from them under the aegis of the 1967 legislative instruments whereby vast tracks of customary land were transferred into the estate sub-sector with modest or no compensation at all (Chirwa [1998]; Chinsinga [2002]; Chirwa [2004]). In the tea and coffee growing districts of Thyolo and Mulanje the grassroots engaging in land encroachments and invasions claim ‘the land in question belong to them because it had belonged to them before it was stolen by colonial settlers’ (Kanyongolo, 2005:129). "

At 5:51 PM , Blogger MrK said...

Winiko, tea growers differ on Mulanje land grab
April 23, 2014
Maurice Nkawihe
-Nyasa Times

Disagreements have ensued between Mulanje district concerned citizens and National Smallholder Tea Development Committee (NSTDC) over demands to confiscate land from some tea estates and redistribute it to communities.

Comedian Bon Kalindo popularly known as Winiko is leading the concerned citizens, demanding authorities to reclaim ‘idle land’ in some tea estates in the district and redistribute it to community members.
In an interview with Nyasa Times, Kalindo said he is determined to fight for the plight of poor people in the district who don’t have land to cultivate.

Kalindo: Land redistribution is the way to go

Kalindo said there was nothing wrong in reclaiming the said land, arguing “After all, the move will benefit the local people who are the actual owners of this land.”

“There are two conditions. One the estate owners should increase wages for their workers and secondly they should give out land currently idle to those who don’t have any place to stay or farm. We will not relent until our wishes are upheld,” challenged Kalindo.

However, NSTDC secretary Wilfred Kasitomu described Kalindo’s motives as chaotic, which will greatly affect the smallholder tea growers who sell their produce to some of the main tea estates in the district.
“Think of the farmers who are depending on such tea estates for market. And what about those people who are employed by the same tea estates, will he employ them if they happen to lose their jobs? Seriously, his ideas have more implications we cannot afford to bear,” Kasitomu said.

On Tuesday NSTDC presented a petition to Mulanje District Commissioner to intervene and resolve the issue amicably.


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