30 December 2012

Rwanda: Act On Land Disputes Decisively


EFFORTS by the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development to resolve land disputes in the country and sensitise nationals on their land rights is a move in the right direction. Land wrangles dominate the cases received at the Office of the Ombudsman, according to a recent report from the government's anti-graft watchdog.

Out of 3,662 cases received between 2010 and 2011, 525 were related to land wrangles.

The report indicates that 80 per cent of the land disputes registered during the reporting year are currently before court. Understandably, there was a substantial increase in the number of land-related wrangles.

This is because of negligence by several local authorities, and more importantly because some local officials fail to solve land disputes and are already riddled in corruption.

The disputes that the Rwanda Initiative seeks to solve arise probably due to insecurity of land rights, where one piece of land is claimed by different parties. More care should be taken when scrutinizing ownership claims during land registration.

Local leaders including local mediators should embrace the Rwanda Initiative and government's efforts in this regard. It should also be upon the people with land related issues to settle their differences with the help of community mediators (Abunzi).

The success of Gacaca traditional courts in handling the country's genocide related cases, serve to remind us of the important role of our traditional conflict-resolution mechanisms, unlike the formal institutions that, while useful, take long to resolve issues.

The villages have respected elders with integrity whose wisdom should be providing guidance in matters of conflicts.

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