Country for sale, apply within. Now Cobell tell me what a gwan? I hear them sell off everything. Name your price if the bargain is right. Oh yeah, with the right connections, you can have anything that you like… I see no reason to laugh. They have been making promises. But all they doing is talk. I say with the right connections, you can have anything you like”
This song by Buju Banton decries the overwhelming power of money. Caribbean countries such as Jamaica, where tourism is a pillar of the economy, are all too happy to make severe compromises to public land and natural habitats, just to get the next hotel, resort, or cruise ship dock. The companies behind these endeavours promise the world and rarely deliver, and as Buju’s song points out, these deals come with prices we just can’t see.
Listening to the song, I was taken to so many places in Malawi which, just like in Jamaica, have been sold to the lowest bidder with the right political connection. And as the artist says, if you have the right connections, you can have anything you like.
The past week has been quite eventful. One issue that has left many Malawians shocked and confused is the alleged sale of Livimbo Community Day Secondary School in Area 2, Lilongwe. The revelations by the legislator for the area, Nancy Tembo, and the counter-argument from officials from the Ministry of Lands only showed that this country we all call home, is up for sale.
Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Symon Vuwa Kaunda’s presser, which was meant to save face, only exposed the crooked ways that are employed in allocating land, which is mostly sold to foreigners with political connections, leaving Malawians with no or very little land.
Vuwa Kaunda tried to dismiss the issue by reducing it to political witch-hunt by Malawi Congress Party (MCP). One thing that’s is clear in the Livimbo saga is that this country is rotten to the core.
It will take ages to restore all that has been lost through corruption. If I were Vuwa Kaunda, I wouldn’t have wasted time organising a presser, instead of instituting an investigation to get to the bottom of the matter. I think I speak for many Malawians when I say Malawians are tired of lip-service. They want to see action.
The Livimbo land saga is just a tip of an iceberg. For a very long time Malawians looking for land through legal means have been complaining about corrupt lands officials, who unashamedly ask for bribes for one to be allocated land. Malawians have also been complaining that much of our prime land has mostly been sold to Malawians of Asian origin at a song.
The case of Livimbo and another school in Area 49, also in Lilongwe, where pupils rioted because their playground had been sold dubiously, should be a wake-up call to all patriotic Malawians to stand up and not let their land be sold to those with connections.
We cannot afford to fold our arms and watch as the country is being sold a hectare at a time. Public land being freely given for one to build warehouses, natural habitats like parks sold at a song just for one to erect a shabby looking lodge. Everyone involved in the Livimbo land saga should be brought to book and face the long arm of the law. n