Chaos as Malawi traders grab Asian businessman's land

Lilongwe - Chaos has broken out in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe after at least 100 local business traders grabbed land belonging to an Asian businessman.

According to Nyasa Times, a spokesperson for the traders, identified as Fredrick Malata, said the land was set to be shared amongst the group and utilised to build and develop shops.

In an interview with local radio station Dziko FM, Malata said the group had decided to occupy the land due to it remaining idle for the past 12 years.

"If government fails to empower its own people, we will take it in our hands and empower ourselves," Malata was quoted as saying.

The development comes hot on the heels of a new Land Grab Bill currently being discussed in Parliament.

The Bill, which comprises five separate bills, has made several concessions around contentious issues, including foreign ownership of land, women's rights and legal affairs.

In December last year, President Peter Mutharika was reported to have ordered an investigation into the alleged grabbing of land by multinational companies in order to diversify tobacco farming.

According to a previous Nyasa Times report, an agreement had been signed between the country and the G8 New Alliance Initiative to release 80 000 hectares of land for commercial agriculture, despite research showing that 11% of the country's population has no access to land for subsistence farming.

Mutharika dismissed reports regarding the deal, stating instead that the government would investigate the matter thoroughly.