Among others the bills will remove Government’s grip on Land and allow people access Land without directly involving government.
Speaking after the passing of the bill, the minister of lands, Housing and urban development Atupele Muluzi said the bill is transformational in nature as it will also help the country’s citizenry in wealth creation.
“The bill has decentralised issues of Land and now people who want land will be able to get it through traditional authorities and land committees that will be set by the people themselves.” said Muluzi.
He said unlike in the past when requests of Land would go to ministers this time around it will be done locally.
On the issue of women empowerment, Muluzi said the new bill will enable women and the vulnerable groups to access customary land which will in return be used for production.
“You know research shows that 70 percent of Agriculture production in Malawi is done by women but unfortunately this group of people faces difficulties to access land but this bill has a provision that in the Land committees there will be three men and women which we hope will help the situation.” added Muluzi who took a lot of questions in Parliament to have the MPs understand the bill before passing it.
He said in years to come, the fruits of the bill will surely be seen especially on the part of women, 70-percent of whom produce food for the county yet they are unable to have title deeds for their land to be used as investment.
“Time has come that people who have stayed on Land without owning it will now be able to do so if they meet the relevant requirements.” Muluzi said.
The ministry has been working tirelessly in the past months to clear the misconceptions championed by opposition through some chiefs which insinuated that people will be buying their own Land.
And Muluzi said the passing of the bill is a sign that the Members of Parliament and some other Key stake holders are seeing the benefits of the bill.
Meanwhile one of the Non-Governmental Organizations working on land matters, LandNet Malawi, has assured that it will continue with its efforts of sensitizing communities on different land laws for an effective management and administration of land.
“We will continue to raise awareness on the voluntary guidelines on security of tenure of land, fisheries and forestry. This effort in a way is trying to domesticate the voluntary guidelines in Malawi adopted by government through the ministry of Lands to ensure security of land rights and sustainable use of land,” Head of Programmes at LandNet Tawonga Chihana said.
Chihana said the organisation would complement government on the newly enacted land laws which have transferred the authority of overseeing land from the presidency to chiefs, adding that the organization strives at strengthening legal and institutional frameworks for land governance in Malawi.
“Voluntary guidelines which were international instruments indicated that there were similarities in land problems as a result there was need to harmonize solutions to such challenges.”
She pointed out that there were three main problems related to land in Malawi which included overpopulation, cultural and traditional elements and transparency and accountability in land transactions.
“In 1966 when the first land Act was adopted there were only four million people which is not the case now. Cultural factors also have an effect on land as certain cultures marginalize women in patrilineal family setting while in matrilineal set up men are marginalized.
“That is not all, we have cases where chiefs sell land that they were not mandated to sell – so all these issues create a platform for discussing land reforms,” she emphasized.
Chihana said LandNet which also looks at women land rights would get involved in the framing of the mining and minerals Act, alleging that such a subject would be contentious in 2017.
According to Chihana, LandNet advocates for pro – poor and equitable land and natural resources, policies, legislation and decision making processes that enhance livelihoods and sustainable utilization.
So far the house has since passed five land related amendment bills namely; Land Acquisition Bill, Malawi Housing Corporation Bill, Public Roads Bill, Local government Bill and the Registered Land Bill. The house is yet to finalize its deliberations on the Forestry amendment bill which was tabled Monday afternoon.