As the National Constitutional Review Commission team led by former Prime Minister Judge Joseph Sinde Warioba collects people’s views for a new constitution countrywide, some traditional elders in Tarime district wards, Mara Region, have called for the amendment of the current land Act.
Speaking to The Guardian on SUnday in different interviews recently the elders said, the existing land law Act of 1999 needs amendment because it does not give freedom and full right of land ownership to local people, especially in rural areas when it comes to investment issues.
They expressed the concern on the side lines of a prize giving ceremony during which fellow 19 elders from the district’s different wards were awarded with cash and certificates for their active participation against crime, a function organised by the special police zone in the district.
The elders with their wards in brackets are Mwita Kitosi (Nyanungu), Sinda Nyangore (Bukira), Nchagwa Mutongori (Bunchari), Samwel Magaigwa (Turwa) and Wambura Munanka (Nyandoto)
They suggested that an aspect of land ownership should be included in the new Act to enable owners to possess national land title deeds since such documents lay bare planned areas that guarantee instant compensation if land is given to investors for development as opposed to village land permits that are not surveyed.
“Village land titles do not give full mandate in terms of ownership,” they maintained saying the situation often leads to land grabbing whereby investors take advantage of acquiring plots easily that in turn results in endless land crisis in the country.
Elaborating on the existing problem with Tarime District as a case study they noted that there have been certain minor problems which arise with land issues occasionally, caused by district land officers.
They claimed that they do not know the clear demarcations of their land, which was issued by the colonialists to Chiefs way back in 1947 when Tarime was first declared a district then known as ‘North Mara District.’
The district was known by that name after independence until 1972 when it was named Tarime. Rorya District was later carved out from Tarime.
The elders’ call comes after Ministry of Local governments and Regional Administration announcement issued during a parliamentary budget session last year that Tarime had been upgraded and given the status of township council.
District sources meantime say the newly formed town council is preparing to put in place a master plan to outline various development initiatives to be run under various categories for peoples’ social and economic gains in the district.
Among such developments is land issue, which would be put forward since land in the surrounding villages of five wards - Nyandoto, Nyamisangura, Turwa, Sabasaba and Bomani – has already been declared to be under the jurisdiction of the newly established town council.
Investigation by The Guardian on Sunday can reveal that following the upcoming development changes, there is fear among Nyandoto Ward villagers whose land had not been surveyed even before Tarime and Rorya districts were created in 2008. The ward consists of four villages namely Gamasara, Mtana, Kemange and Nyagisya
Interviewed district officials said new developments would take effect once a master plan for the district, currently is being worked upon, and is completed. Details would include allocation of various social services and many others according to laws that govern town councils.
Clarifying, Tarime District Council Director, Fidelis Lumato told The Guardian on Sunday in an interview that, the whole process will take longer than expected as there are lots of preparations which require huge sums of money from the national budget. However, he did not disclose how much would be needed.
“You know there are so many things such as infrastructure, social facilities like schools, police, hospitals and others which will be needed for expansion and promotion,” he said adding that it would not be an issue of today or tomorrow.
An officer from the land department in the district Ruzama Misango told this paper that despite being given town council status, they are waiting for a certificate of approval from the government to start land surveying in appropriate areas to be designated in the master plan.
The town council status for Tarime follows the partitioning of its area with Rorya District immediately when the Fourth Phase government of Jakaya Kikwete came to power in 2005.
The partitioning of the district is meant to speed up provision of social and economic services. Tarime town council according to district officials is expected to be inaugurated towards the end of this year.