Mbarali residents in land row with MP, await Ikulu team

08Feb 2019
Finnigan wa Simbeye
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Mbarali residents in land row with MP, await Ikulu team

THOUSANDS of residents of 11 villages in Mbarali district of Mbeya region who are at loggerheads with their legislator, Pirmohamed Mulla over ownership of land, have been waiting for a probe team from Ikulu since last week.

Chairman of the residents who had camped at Ikulu for several months last year seeking to meet President John Magufuli, Patrick Mnyoka and his Secretary, Oswald Mndeva said they had been promised that the probe team under Winfrida Pambilo would visit their area last week.

“But she called during the week to postpone the journey to this week and so far the probe team has not arrived,” said Mnyota over the phone from Mbarali. He said thousands of farmers from the 11 villages have not cultivated their paddy rice farms this year because Mulla and his Highlands Estates Limited had destroyed irrigation infrastructure while seizing over 3,200 acres of land.

“We are desperately waiting for the Ikulu team after failing to see the president for several months last year because reasons beyond our ability,” Mnyota added while expressing confidence that the State House probe team will help address their long standing conflict against their investor cum lawmaker.

The 11 villages which include Nyeregete, Ibohola, Mbarali, Ubaruku, Utyego, Mayota, Warumba, Urinda, Ibumila, Imalilosongwe and Mwanavala, allege that Mulla and his company has annexed farms which are outside the two National Food Company (Nafco) farms which he acquired in 2014.

The lawmaker however maintains that the villagers had actually invaded parts of his Nafco farms hence qualified to be evicted. Responding to the villagers’ letter addressed to a farmer from Imalilo village, Job gwimile, Mulla acknowledged receipt of the letter dated November 27, 2017 which disputed boundaries of the Nafco farms.

“The company would like to inform you that the boundaries to Highland Estate Limited Mbarali were not put by the investor but the government,” Mulla wrote in his letter dated December 6, 2017 which he signed as HEL Director.

Last month, State House spokesman, Gerson Msigwa told Property watch that if the Mbarali residents issue had following proper channels, then it will be communicated to them officially as to when will they be able to see President Magufuli who has a busy schedule.

“My simple advise is that they should respect and follow official protocol,” Msigwa said. The probe team may be going to Mbeya to verify the truth about the conflict because the residents allege that both regional and district authorities are siding with the lawmaker.