HomeNational NewsNationalKasungu camp residents to be relocated after 12 years

Kasungu camp residents to be relocated after 12 years

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District Commissioner for Kasungu, James Kanyangalazi, says there is hope that the residents of the 12-year-old Nthunduwala camp could be relocated to a better place at least before the new farming season later in the year.

The congested half-acre camp, located about 70 kilometers west of Kasungu boma, is home to 127 households with a total of about 380 people who became homeless after being evicted from the tobacco estates where they were working as tenants.

Retrenched in the mid-1990s, the families went to Zambia, working in farms on the encroached western side of Kasungu National Park before being banished and dumped at Nthunduwala in 2012 where they were told they would temporarily stay for one week.

About 12 years down the line, the families are still at the camp living in conditions which Catholic Centre for Justice and Peace Coordinator for Kasungu Hastings Kalima describes as inhuman.

However, in an interview on Friday, Kanyangalazi said the creation of a taskforce to lead the discussions with relevant authorities could see an identification of land and the eventually relocation taking place later this year so that the families cultivate their own crops.

Kanyangalazi: The process has really delayed and it’s sad

His remarks follow a two-day meeting convened by Kasungu District Peace and Unity Committee (DPUC) last week to discuss the bottlenecks that have delayed the relocation of the camp residents and find possible solutions to expedite the resettlement.

The meeting ended with an establishment of a taskforce to restart and spearhead the process.

Kanyangalazi said since 2015, there have been efforts to settle the families on some identified land but the efforts have not been successful due to various factors.

Said Kanyangalazi: “It is unfortunate that these people have been at the place for the past 12 years starting from 2012. Efforts to have them settled elsewhere started way back in 2015.

“For example, we have at one point reached out to the Ministry of Lands to identify land so that government buys it. About 200 acres of land was identified, but there were no funds.”

He said all further efforts from that time up to 2023 also failed to realise success that could lead to the ‘decommissioning’ of the camp.

“For sure we will get some land for these people. I’m happy that the stakeholders meeting that was convened decided to create a taskforce to assist government officials to push for the same.

“We have in it members of the civil society, non-governmental organisations and other independent people to try to work things around so that come this farming season, these people should be relocated. The process has really delayed and it’s really sad,” said Kanyangalazi.

Chairperson for the taskforce, Kate Chibwana Nkhata said they will try to lobby with the relevant government offices to ensure that families are given land so that they live an independent and productive life.

She said: “The problem has been that relevant stakeholders haven’t been working as a team despite having the same goal. So as a taskforce, we will ensure that we bring together all the stakeholders and work as one.”

The brush huts that house the camp dwellers

In his remarks, Malawi Peace and Unity (MPUC) Commissioner, Francis Mkandawire said people at the camp have for so long been subjected to social, psychological and emotional abuse and asked the taskforce to speed up its work to help safeguard their rights.

“Currently there is hunger at the camp. As such, I would urge the taskforce to help solicit aid from well-wishers to buy food stuffs and other basic necessities while at the same time fighting for these people to be given permanent land to do their own farming,” he said.

Member of Parliament for Kasungu West Constituency, Jailosi Bonongwe said politics has contributed to delays to relocate the families and urged members of the taskforce to put politics aside this time as they try to find a solution.

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