By Morton Sibale
There seems to be more than meets the eye on the Livimbo Community Day Secondary School saga where reports allege that the school land has been sold to Malawians of Asian origin.
Reports have been awash on both social and traditional media that authorities at the school have been ordered to vacate the place as the land on which the school stands belongs to Mr. Nurmahomed Ahmed, a Malawian of Asian origin. This followed revelations by the Member of Parliament for the area (Lilongwe City South West), Nancy Tembo.
And pursuing the story further after meeting the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Lands on Thursday, the Legal Affairs and Education Committees of parliament conducted a meeting at the school in a bid to find out more about the news.
The meeting was conducted on Friday morning, and drew participation from committees’ members, various school committees’ leadership, school management, Education Division Manager and members of the press.
During the meeting, chairpersons for the school management committees for Livimbo Primary and Livimbo CDSS as well as the Head-Teacher for school informed the committees that the land ownership wrangles date back to five years ago. Over the years, they have been receiving communications from the Ministry of Lands that part of the land the school occupied belonged to Ahmed. According to the three, they were shown maps that showed that at least three classroom blocks have to be demolished as they had encroached into the land of Ahmed.
The three also corroborated to inform the committee that the original fence the school had was demolished and a new one was constructed just on the edge of the classroom blocks. The area that was covered by the original fence now contains warehouses. The three also revealed to the committees that the purported owner of the land had suggested that the school should be moved to Nanjiri.
Malawi News Agency was able to see one of the letters that Nurmahomed Ahmed wrote the District Education Manager, requesting for approval to construct a wall within the boundary of the school to enable him to have access to his land free of any obstruction. The letter, dated 10th July 2017 further says that Ahmed offered to construct the fence for the school as part of ‘goodwill towards a public school’.
However, speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Chairperson for the Legal Affairs Committee Honourable Kezzie Msukwa assured Malawians that Committees will not rest until they get to the bottom of the matter.
“We were following up on the reports that emanated from social media that the school has been sold. We summoned the Principal Secretary for Lands who informed us that there are actually issues at this school. However, when the minister came here, there was contrary information. So as committees, we decided we should come and talk to the people and find out more,” Msukwa said.
He further said the committees have sent back the junior ranking official that the Ministry of Lands sent to the meeting in favor of senior officials, because he was not giving the committee satisfactory answers.
“We want the Principal Secretary, the City Council and the Surveyor General to appear before the committee so that we should be able to map the way forward and protect the land. We will be meeting them next week, but we have demanded that all the documents should be submitted to parliament today as there are fears that they could be doctored,” Msukwa said.
In his remarks, Chief Lands Officer for the Ministry of Lands Geoffrey Mvula said the Ministry will comply with the recommendations that had been made by the committee members during the meeting.
“We have all the documentation that this is public land, and we will present the same to the committees. We will report to the Principal Secretary and the Commissioner of Lands immediately so that we are able to track down the information that may be required by the committees,” said Mvula.
News had it that government had sold the land for Livimbo Community Day Secondary School to a Malawian of Asian origin who is now demanding that the premises be vacated.
In the aftermaths of the reports, Minister of Lands and Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education held a press conference at the school on Wednesday where they refuted the reports as false. However, the news has drawn multi-faceted inquiries with the Anti-Corruption Bureau and parliamentary committees launching inquiries into the matter.