17 November 2012

Tanzania: Land Ownership Gets Impetus in New Katiba

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Tanzanians have, in increasing numbers, taken to social media to express their views on the constitution.

A CROSS section of Tanzanians have called for the issue of land ownership from household, village to national level to be enshrined in the new constitution and be explicit on the matter in Tanzania Mainland.

The current constitution is not clear on the issue of land ownership as it only states that land is the property of the United Republic of Tanzania.

Contributing views to the Constitutional Review Commission yesterday, various speakers said since Zanzibar has principally stated on the status of its land in the 2010 constitution amendment, it is time the new union constitution addressed the same for the Mainland.

"The new constitution should address this fact and state categorically on the ownership of land in Tanzania Mainland as it is the case for Zanzibar which made her case clear in their 2010 constitution," said Mr Marcus Arbanie, an activist and lawyer.

He was of the opinion that issues of land ownership must be given serious attention in the new constitution otherwise they will create conflicts and add to existing toxic issues in the union. Over 500 stakeholders representing about 400 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have been gathering for the last three days to contribute view on the new constitution where a number of issues have been raised.

Dr Rugemeleza Nshara, a lawyer with the city based Kituo Cha Mazingira, said there were a number of land disputes that have not been addressed in the country which need urgent attention even before the new constitution is in place.

He said it is unfortunate that there were few manpower to deal with land issues adding the Land Division of the High Court alone can not manage to effectively deal with existing land problems in the country. Other stakeholders suggested that the new constitution address the need for fair compensation especially for land in rural areas and require the government to pay fairly whenever it confiscates land for any public use.

"Now the government is confiscating land for foreign investors, which is good for the country's development, but I suggest that it should engage an independent surveyor and valuer who will determine fair compensation," said Mr Evod Mkwawa.

Ms Anjelina Chuwa called for the constitution to officially recognize women as land owners contrary to some traditional beliefs in some parts of the country that women can not own land.

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