The 2009 Parliamentary and Presidential Elections are behind us but 20 households from Nampinga Village in Senior Chief Kawinga in Machinga District the elections revoke bitter memories.
The families claim they supported President Bingu wa Mutharika’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and allege they were, as a result, forcibly evicted from their land, leaving behind food and non-food items.
They have relocated to T/A Mlomba, a distance of about 10 km.
Machinga District Commissioner (DC) James Kanyangalazi confirmed a village from Group Village Headman (GVH) Chilala in Senior Chief Kawinga has relocated to T/A Mlomba over political differences in the area.
“The issue is complicated. I got information from the OC (Officer-In-Charge) that some people went to Ntaja Police Unit to complain that they have been chased because they supported DPP,” Kanyangalazi said.
The villagers whom Nation on Sunday visited their new location alleged GVH Chilala on several occasions summoned them over political issues before and after the elections.
“After the May 19th elections, we were summoned again. We were accused of supporting DPP in the area. We were warned that if we continued supporting DPP, we would face the consequences. A day later we were told to stop working on our gardens and that the village headman would communicate to us on our fate.
“In July, we were advised to look for alternative land. That is how we found ourselves at this location,” said Patrick Amosi who said the group settled on Mgodi Estate, an estate of late Hastings Kamuzu Banda which has been encroached on by other villagers.
Amosi said the group decided to leave the jurisdiction of GVH Chilala because they did not want to compromise their conscience nor security. Amosi alleged GVH Chilala ordered them to support UDF which claimed all parliamentary seats in the district.
Machinga is the home village of former president and leader of the opposition UDF party Bakili Muluzi.
GVH Chilala confirmed some people under his jurisdiction left but refused to comment on whether he forced them.
“I know they left but why did they not report me to Senior Chief Kawinga if I chased them?” he questioned. “I am surprised with their conduct because other people in village headman Nampinga remained behind. I think they have scores to settle against me.”
The decision of the 20 families to relocate has, however, ignited over water, food, land and proper housing.
“Water is a big concern here. We wake up early to queue for water at a well which is about 1.5 km from here. But to access the water is very difficult because the flow is slow and there are too many of us in need of it,” said Esnath Bernard a mother of seven.
She also complained that most of the families left their crops in the field which has put them at risk of hunger.
“We depend on crops for our survival but we left the plants in the field because they were not mature then. We cannot go back. We are mocked and laughed at whenever we visit the area. We also fear the wrath of the group village headman Chilala,” said Bernard.
Rosemary Chipa, 44, has eight children. They are all living in makeshift houses made from grass.
“We used to live in a good house although it was grass-thatched. We are now living in shacks as if we were refugees. The shacks we have built pose a danger to our lives because sometimes snakes crawl in and we always sleep in fear,” she said.
Another issue dogging families is land. After their arrival on September 18, they were allocated land to cultivate but their toil has been put to a halt because they have occupied the land illegally.
The land is under dispute between some villagers and a great niece of the Kamuzu Banda family. The family representative Jane Dzanjalimodzi has obtained an injunction at the Lilongwe High Court restraining all occupants on the vast 1 472.5 hectares estate.
On Friday, Goodson Panje, an adviser to Group Village Headman Lambulila, was in Blantyre seeking legal services to challenge and vacate the injunction in the interest of the villagers concerned-Nation on Sunday.