9 November 2012

Tanzania: Lawmakers Rail At Bad Land Allocations

LEGISLATORS have called for a countrywide-survey of the available land and for a database that would apportion the resource for various land uses in a bid to reduce land conflicts amongst communities and between residents and investors.

This comes in a wake of revelation by the Ministry of Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development that only 10 per cent of the land in the country has been surveyed. The MPs made the remarks here while contributing to a private motion tabled in the National Assembly by Kawe MP, Ms Halima Mdee (Chadema).

Ms Mdee had moved the motion in the House seeking to temporarily halt any allocation of land to local and foreign investors until a thorough assessment of land that has been leased out to foreigners has been conducted.She expressed concerns that a big chunk of land has been leased out to investors while applications for the resource have also been increasing in recent years.

The motion by the youthful MP was well supported by Kasulu Urban MP, Mr Moses Machali and Special Seats MP, Ms Ester Bulaya; each stressing the need to find out how much has been allocated to foreign investors so far. "It is high time we solved land conflicts failure to which we are setting a time bomb, land is a very sensitive issue," charged the vocal MP, blaming land officers at local government level for being part of fuelling land conflicts.

Ms Bulaya was of a view that the reigning village land legislation should be amended since it gives too much power to village leaders to give out power to investors, without conducting village meetings to approve the same as required by the law.Her sentiments were echoed by Special Seats MP, Ms Kuluthum Mchuchuli (CUF), who noted that land officers and other leaders at village level exploit loopholes of the law to sell out land to investors by forging minutes of purportedly village meetings showing that the people have approved the sell out.

A State Minister in the President's Office (Civil Society Relations and Co-ordination), Mr Steven Wassira agreed with Ms Mdee on conducting an assessment of land that has been leased out but was against temporarily halting the allocation.The President, who is the custodian of the land according to the constitution, is very cautious whenever approving any land title, Mr Wassira noted, adding further that a good number of files requesting land titles for investors from some villages have been rejected at State House after it was realized that the process to acquire the land was doubtful.

Longido MP, Mr Lekule Laizer said most of the so-called investors looking for land in the country are in reality land speculators.In a reaction shortly after Ms Mdee tabled the motion, the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Prof. Anna Tibaijuka, admitted of the challenges facing the sector, noting however that there was a need to educate the public against dishonest officials who collude with investors to cheat villagers.

Prof. Tibaijuka also hinted that an envisaged new land policy that is currently in the pipeline will enable the government to own at least 25 per cent of farms it leases to investors.

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