The midterm budget review meeting by Parliament would deliberate on a Land Bill which, among others, proposes barring of foreigners from owning land in the country.
The bill proposes that unless a foreign investor partners with a Malawian citizen they will not be allocated or granted a freehold land (life ownership of land).
"Freehold land acquired by a person who is not a citizen of Malawi prior to the enactment of this Act shall be converted to leasehold interest unless the person currently in possession of such land shall have acquired Malawian citizenship in accordance with the Malawi Citizenship Act within a period of seven years after commencement of this Act," says the bill.
Ministry of Lands through Public Relations Officer Mike Chigowo said in an interview that the bill comes to take into account recommendations in the land policy.
"Government approved the Malawi National Land Policy in January 2002 which makes recommendations on land matters, some of which are at variance with the existing legal framework. As such land related laws were reviewed to take into account the recommendations of the policy," said Chigowo.
It has been a common concern that foreigners are dominating land ownership in the country taking advantage of loose land laws that do not protect the natural resource.
However, investors have also been complaining about complicated processes involved in acquiring land in the country for investment making it one of the factors that worsen Malawi's ranking on Doing Business Index by the World Bank.
Existing law allows foreigners to buy land only when the owner has advertised for the sale for 21 days and there is no Malawian interested to buy at the advertised price or the non citizen has offered higher price than the advertised.
In the bill, Section 13 which talks about the controversial issue of customary land earmarked for public use by government the bill proposes that minister or local government authority shall serve notice to the Traditional Authority within the area "...but this subsection shall not apply to any customary required for use as a public road or for the widening or diversion thereof, for such land shall be acquired for that purpose in accordance with the Public Roads Act," says the bill.
The bill proposes that government should compensate any person disturbed or relocated from the customary land.