The PLO Saga Continues as Wandale Challenges his Opponents
By: Feston Konzani
The ongoing saga concerning the People’s Land Organisation’s (PLO) declaration of the United States of Thyolo and Mulanje refuses to dwindle into oblivion.
Recently, The Minister of Information, Communication Technology and Civic Education, Patricia Kaliati, called PLO’s leader Vincent Wandale “a mad man.”
“He is mad due to the medication that he is taking and the government will pay him no mind,” Said Kaliati.
Responding to these claims, Wandale is now accusing Kaliati of defamation because such claims have to be backed up by medical documentation.
“That information has to be backed up by medical reports. I work with the Ministry of Agriculture and I don’t think the Ministry can accept to work with someone who can be considered mad. I am ok, only that they think they can shield people from reality by trying to tarnish my image. And defamation is a crime according to the laws of Malawi. So as people who are supposed to be at the forefront in protecting and upholding the constitution, they are not leading by example. PLO is not Wandale, it is a Peoples’ run organization and trying to castigate me personally is indeed a gross form of misrepresentation to the people who are directly affected by the issues that we are raising,” said Wandale in an exclusive interview with The Malawi Star.
When asked whether the PLO is a registered organization according to the Laws of this country and whether there was any legal basis for its existence in Malawi, Wandale was quick to point out that those who want to know anything regarding the PLO’s legality should consult the Registrar General and find the information from there.
Once again reiterating that the PLO is not a “one-man operation,” despite misinformation from various state bodies and individuals, Wandale raised the point that the people in the affected areas have for many years been trying to engage the government in meaningful discussions in an attempt to address the crucial issues facing Thyolo and Mulanje, but they have been marginalized because their own government has failed to offer any solutions to the situations facing them.
“I have met the President who also met some of the members of the organization on these very issues, but nothing tangible transpired. We issued the government three notices about how they would deal with these and suddenly I am a mad person? By resorting to personal attacks it just goes to show that they have nothing to say,” Continued Wandale.
When pressed on whether as a Sovereign state, they intended to have their own currency, travel documents and all amenities that a state should have, Wandale pointed out that the PLO was ready to do whatever it takes as a sovereign nation.
“We are at the very primary stages, but we are moving in the right direction when it comes to settling and setting down the necessary requirements whether it be currencies, passports, judiciary and the likes. We are a sovereign state just like any other.”
“What we have not discussed with the Malawian government is the form of our relationship because they are still in denial about the whole thing. But if they think that this is just Wandale talking, then they should take a bold step and call for a referendum so that the people from these districts can decide for themselves.”
“There was a referendum in Scotland not so long ago. People decided and made their voices heard, why not Malawi?”
Wandale then switched to one of the most volatile issues raised by the PLO concerning these highly valuable and profitable regions of Africa, stating that “these are the views of those worst affected by the existence of the fraudulently obtained land run by the tea estate owners,”
When questioned whether there have been any reports or otherwise that has been published regarding how the land was fraudulently obtained, Wandale mentioned The Presidential Commission of Enquiry on Land Policy Reform which was commissioned by the President of Malawi in 1999 and it concluded that the land owned by the Tea Estates was fraudulently obtained.
He went on to say that among the bodies that funded the production of the Report is the UNDP. The authors of the report, according to Wandale, signed an oath that they would not disclose the contents of the report.
“Ironically, the authors of the report were told to take an oath that although they were the commissioners of the report, the findings will not be revealed to the public by them because it was confidential. Until now, not many people know of the existence of such a report as well as its findings. I have a copy of it and that’s why I can boldly say that these people are thieves.” (emphasis added)
“Self-determination is a right according to the United Nations to which Malawi is a signatory. So why are they forcing us to remain Malawians when we have the right to determine and decide our own future through a referendum? There is a contradiction here, because Malawi as a UN signatory is refusing our right to self-determination,” continued Wandale.
When pressed on the issue of whether or not the state was recognized by any international bodies, Wandale responded by saying that they were a sovereign state according to the UN Charter, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and according to the International Covenant of Economic and Social Rights which recognizes that self-determination is a right.
It was also put to Wandale whether calls for a treason case should be leveled against him and the entire members of the PLO and whether they were afraid of their lives since treason is punishable by death. Wandale said that they had already considered this and that it was a risk they were willing to take, but that they were not willing to sit idly by.
“If it is treason, it can only be decided by the courts and not any other Minister. But the courts will also have to consider the basis for our actions. If the Malawi government acted on these issues, when we first presented to them on several occasions, we would not have reached this point,” Explained Wandale.
On whether he was doing this for fame, money or martyrdom or just a move to confuse and divide the people of this country, Wandale said that they were and have not received any funding from anyone regarding these issues or anything to do with the PLO.
“There is and has never been anyone behind us in terms of funding. Those who think there are some people funding us should say ‘these people’ are behind the campaign and not ‘some people’ are funding us. In fact, our organisation is one of the most unsupported organizations in Malawi. We only have the faith and the belief that what we are standing for is right and nothing else,” Said Wandale.
Meanwhile, The Malawi Star has obtained the PLOs Constitution as well as PLO’s Grounds for the Declaration Of Independence of Thyolo and Mulanje Districts From The Republic of Malawi in which the first article reads as follows:
“When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation,”
Efforts to speak Human Rights activist Edge Kanyongolo on the issue proved futile as his number went unanswered and unreached in other attempts.