The Millennium Information and Resource Centre [Mirece] says it has relocated over 13,000 ex tobacco labourers in the area of Traditional Authority Kapondo in Mchinji while 23,000 people are still homeless as no land has been found in various places in the Central Region of Malawi.
From 1970s, Press Agriculture Limited employed labourers; from Mulanje, Thyolo, Phalombe, Nsanje, Lilongwe, Dowa, Mzimba and Kasungu; to work in its estates in Kasungu which all were closed in the 2000s.
The ex tobacco tenants were dumped after the estates closed leaving them with no land for farming and settlement a development that made Reverend Flywell Somanje search land for resettlement in Mchinji in a project funded by a Swedish NGO.
The Malawi Human Rights Commission [MHRC] in its September 2020 Report faulted the Government of Malawi for violating the rights of ex-tobacco tenants Section 28 and 30 of the Republican Constitution in failing to find suitable resettlement after Press Agriculture Limited closed its estates in Kasungu.
In the report, the MHRC recommended that the Government of Malawi has to change ownership of the five estates in Kasungu of Press Agriculture Limited back to Government and that the estates be under District Commissioners hosting the concerned parties.
The DCs were ordered to find resettlement for the ex-tobacco tenants of Rusa estate and Government to provide health services to the people and who should also be registered as Affordable Input Program [AIP] beneficiaries; the Ministry of Labor was ordered to formulate labor laws for ex-tobacco tenants to match with international human rights.
Former Ombudsman, Martha Chizuma last week made a courtesy call to the ex-tobacco tenants, who are resettled in Mchinji, to see for herself the problems they are facing and how best Government can come in to support these vulnerable people.
Speaking during an interview after the visit by Chizuma in Mchinji, Mirece’s Director, Reverend Flywell Somanje, said he is proud to be part of the liberation process of the suffering of ex tobacco m tenants as the mission is not yet accomplished for there is need to relocate the remaining ones in Mzimba, Lilongwe,and Salima.
Reverend Somanje is appealing to those that have the will to come in, and assist the vulnerable communities that regarded their work estates as their home, and join hands in his mission to relocate the remaining ones quoting Luke 4:18-19.
He said what he has done to the former tobacco tenants is part of his mission as an Anglican Priest to spearheading it challenging some other people in the church community and society who wrongly thought he had lost direction, saying God sent him for a purpose to serve the vulnerable people.
“…The Spirit of the Lord is on me to preach good news to the poor, He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, I knew what I was doing was in line with the Jesus Christ mission…,’’ said Reverend Somanje.
The Reverend said he received the vision from Lord to implement, and has saved the lives of many; almost 17 churches have been planted their Ministries at the new resettlement in Mchinji including the main line church: Roman Catholic, CCAP, Anglican and Islam saying this is a breakthrough, thanking Lord the Almighty for fulfilling his vision to the vulnerable in Mchinji.
By Vincent Gunde