21 August 2017

Tanzania: Minus Good Plans, Land Will Remain Contentious - Caution

ACTIVISTS and members of the public have commended the government's move to revoke the title deeds of undeveloped land but stressed that it should be coupled with proper land use planning.

They told the 'Daily News' that short of that, the resource would not benefit ordinary people. During President John Magufuli's recent tours in Kagera, Kigoma, Coast, Tanga and Tabora regions, water and land were predominant issues that shot to the fore, prompting him to make impromptu key decisions.

He directed parts of land owned by Tanzania People's Defence Forces (TPDF) and National Service in Kigoma, Coast and Tanga Regions to be relocated to wananchi who had complained that they were short of farmland.

The Head of State also revoked title deeds of the 14 chunks of land in Morogoro, according to the Minister of Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Mr William Lukuvi.

The Executive Director of the Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC), Dr Helen Kijo-Bisimba, praised the government's moves, saying every Tanzanian was entitled to land ownership.

The human rights activist noted, for instance, that a few individuals owned vast chunks of land in Morogoro and Hanang, while many ordinary people lacked even small pieces on which to grow food crops.

She pointed out, however, that the government should handle the issue cautiously to avoid breaches of the law and regulations, as revocations of right of occupancy related to land that had been acquired lawfully.

The LHRC boss also remarked that the ongoing exercise won't produce a permanent end to conflicts between peasants and herders, unless good land use plans were drawn.

The Tanzania Gender and Networking Programme Officer, Mr Deogratius Temba, concurred with Dr Kijo-Bisimba's sentiments, adding that wananchi should be empowered technologically to enable them utilize the confiscated land effectively amid the current era of climate change.

Mr Temba told 'Daily News' that TGNP's observations in Kisarawe and Morogoro pointed to land mismanagement as one of the triggers of peasants-herders conflicts, whose features included a few people owning vast pieces that they didn't develop, and illegal ownership.

"Young people are victims of circumstances. The government should give them priority, empower them technologically, as they are eager to produce but climate change dampens their enthusiasm," the activist said.

He added that advantage of empowering marginalized people to effectively cultivate idle land on which they can produce enough raw materials for industry and capitalize on horticulture, for which neighbouring Kenya had a ready market.

Juma Bakari, one of the residents of Bwakirachini Ward in Morogoro, congratulated the government and asked it to extend its initiatives in other parts of the region where land conflicts were rife.

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