Land encroachers invade SADC livestock site in Lilongwe

There is uncertainty over an ambitious Southern African Development Community (SADC) roll out of the Centre for Tick-borne Disease and Vaccination Centre at Bwemba in Lilongwe after some encroachers invaded the site and started construction.

In an interview on Tuesday during the visit to the area, Director of Animal Health in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Patrick Chinguwo, complained that there have been ongoing disagreements over land ownership on the site where the SADC-funded project is located at Bwemba (Lilongwe).

Chinguwo said what is more worrying is encroachers are threatening to deal with any Ministry of Agriculture official who will block them from occupying the disputed land.

A brick fence being constructed by an encroacher at the Tick-borne Disease and Vaccination Centre site in Bwemba in Lilongwe

“First and foremost, this place is very important as it is specifically designed to be a centre of excellence for treating animal diseases, not only in Malawi, but also the whole SADC, and when we are being faced with these wrangles, it threatens the whole idea.

“What is more worrying is the fact that these encroachers are very physical and rude whenever we approach and remind them that the land they are on is government’s,” said Chinguwo.

The director said the ministry is worried because if the issue of land ownership on the site is not resolved, it might jeopardize Malawi’s hosting rights of the site by SADC.

Gumba (second from right) inspecting the disputed land

Deputy Minister of Lands and Urban Development, Deus Gumba, acknowledged the existence of the land wrangle on the site and said government would come in to bring sanity into the matter.

“There is nowhere someone can just wake up and start claiming government land as his or hers. We will, therefore, as the ministry responsible, look into the matter and try to resolve it amicably so that government business is not compromised on the site,” said the deputy minister.