Chikwawa women bemoan increased land, property grabbing issues to GBV | Land Portal

Source:Malawi News Agency


Written By: Steve Chirombo

Chikwawa, December 22: Women in Chikwawa have complained with the increased behaviour by some people and more especially politicians who grab their land leaving them landless through the use of outdated cultural practices and political power.

The women have further attributed the act to the delay by Government to enact the Land Act which they expect and are sure of would empower them have access to their customary land without any interferences by anyone.

Speaking with one voice on Saturday, the women who gathered at Group Village Headman Konzele in the Traditional Authority Ngowe in Chikwawa district, said the act has affected them in as far as Gender Based Violence (GBV) issues are concerned.

The revelations were made when LandNet organized Media Outreach Campaign on Women Land Rights in the area which is also one area facing serious land dispute issue in the district.

The most controversial land dispute issue in the area, involved the then former Chikwawa East MP and Disability and Elderly Minister in the Bingu wa Mutharika government, Clement Khembo who was accused to have connived with the Traditional Authority Ngowe in order to grab the only source of food, income as well as the only land most people of the area use to graze their animals according to the communities.

On her part, Malita Blenzi said the issues of land grabbing in the area were rampant adding that what Khembo and Traditional Authority Ngowe did affected them psychologically.

She added that it would not be necessary for the two and whosoever was concerned or taking part to grab the land from them to continue with the idea as that would attract unspecified action from the communities.

“Khembo came in and divided my land which I and my late husband used to farm on and demarcated it as though it was his. It’s our land and no one should dare have it for himself. We have children who rely on us for many things including school fees, clothes even food and we provide that through the harvests we gain from the land.

“We have the rights to teach our children, feed ourselves and many other things. We have grass thatched houses and that’s where we get the grass,” said Mary Holande amid ululation from the gathering.

Another issue that has been surrounded with a lot of controversial is the fact that most women in the area lose property as well as land when their husbands die. They (women) said that husbands’ relatives say the widow already benefited from the lobola paid at a point of marriage and that what their son left belonged to them replacing what they paid for her.

“As in Sena it’s our tradition that we access the land even when our husbands die but that it is not the case now. My husband died in 2010 and his relatives grabbed the land I used to farm on with my husband and as I speak now I don’t have a land of my own. I am in danger of hunger every year,” said Odeta Chasauka.

Village Headman Kulima whose real name is Elizabeth Sosi said that the land dispute issue between them and Khembo that date back in 2010 including the culture of grabbing land from widows in area have put women of her area into a big trouble.

“Women here are in such a big trouble not only land grabbing but also on everything a woman and her husband would manage to gain throughout their marriage life. When the husband is dead, his relatives would come in and take away anything that would have benefited the woman and children.

In the end she is turned into a beggar who goes around searching for food in people’s homes. It’s our plea that government as well as NGOs should intervene in these issues so that women rights are protected.

Group Village Headman Konzele of the area said it was important that LandNet decided to engage such an outreach to hear challenges women face in as far as land issues are concerned he then asked for other organizations who would come in and engage women themselves by forming up clubs that would help enhance women rights on land.

“At the same time government should be responsible enough to swiftly act on the enactment of the Land Act because thus what would protect the communities defend their rights to a land,” he said.

LandNet Programs Officer, Joseph Gausi said it was the duty of his office to make sure that they come in wherever issues of land dispute arise so that the rights of the people inside out are protected.

He said if it was a kind of development being implemented on a particular land, then communities must also benefit from the fruits being realized from the land not only those who would take advantage on the voiceless.

“Let’s work together as a community to protect the land that belongs to us and make sure you use it in a proper way so that we benefit from it. It’s a woman who does most farm work and it’s her who feeds the children and when we deny them chances, we are killing the nation,” said Gausi.

LandNet deals with land issues by involving the local communities so that their feedback helps in the incorporation of the land bills.

The Media Outreach Campaign on women land rights is done with support from the International Land Coalition under Gender support.

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