By JULIUS PHIRI –
AUTHORITIES in Malawi have ordered more than 58 families in Kaleza Farm Bloc in Chipata District to vacate the area by this monthend after new boundary beacons revealed that the area is in Malawi.
According to a petition by the affected families which was addressed to Chipata District Commissioner Kalunga Zulu and copied to President Edgar Lungu, the residents have been asked to leave or face unspecified consequences.
The residents say they have been living in the border area for the past 21 years without any problems.
However, the Zambian and Malawian authorities drew boundaries in 2009 which now suggest that the 58 families are on Malawian land.
Among the villages that have been affected are Chimango, Msapenda, Lundu, Lingililani Lionda and Zindo, all in Chief Chanje.
In a letter informing Government officials, Kaleza Farm Bloc chairperson Pilate Zulu said that last week, game scouts from Malawi in the company of ZAWA officials visited the area and ordered the Zambians to leave or face serious consequences.
“The new boundary found us living in the areas we are told to vacate. Is it true that since independence the Malawian government did not know their boundary until 2009?” read the petition in part which was also copied to Foreign Affairs Minister Harry Kalaba and his Lands counterpart Christabel Ngimbu.
Mr Zulu said that people now felt they had no option but to move to the Zambian side despite having lived in the area for a long time.
He expressed confidence that the Government would help to resolve the matter in the interest of its people to allow the residents enjoy the benefits of land.
David Tonga, one of the affected residents, told the Times that there were also Malawians that had found themselves on Zambian side after the new boundary markings.
He claimed the some Malawians had even managed to obtain national registration cards (NRCs) in the confusion.
Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo said there was no need to evict the residents because the process of boundary marking had not been completed.