Almost 200 people from Kandodo and Kaphiliwita areas have risen against Mzuzu City Council (MCC) plans to open a new settlement in Area 6.
They accuse the council of putting the land they occupy up for grabs without engaging and compensating them.
Yesterday, their lawyer, Wesley Mwafulirwa, wrote the council demanding a meeting to discuss compensation and resettlement plans.
The letter reads in part: “Our clients are willing to part with their land, but only after reasonable compensation and they should be consulted throughout the process.”
The letter shows the villagers do not know when they are expected to evacuate the area and whether the council will offer them alternative land.
“Initially, they were advised that the land will be redistributed to orphans and poor people, and yet they were surprised to see advertisements in newspapers that the land is being offered to people generally, including those who want to use the land for commercial purposes,” writes Mwafulirwa.
The lawyer has threatened to take the council to court if it does not respond and meet with the group within seven days.
He argued that most of them are subsistent farmers and their livelihoods sorely depends on the land where they have lived “since time immemorial”.
In an interview, Mwafulirwa said his clients were not against the expansion of the city, but being excluded from a process which affects them.
MCC chief executive officer Mcloud Kadammanaja said the council duly consulted affected persons and chiefs, including Traditional Authority Kampingo Sibande of Mzimba.
He said a team from the council was assessing property to determine compensation. n