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Stakeholders press for village land law review

31st March 2012
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HakiArdhi executive director Yefred Myenzi

Land stakeholders have called for a holistic review of the Village Land Act, 1999 to guarantee grassroots land holders and users a secure access to ownership and control over land.

The stakeholders made the call in Dar es Salaam on Thursday during a breakfast debate organised by Policy Forum.

They said the Village Land Act No 5 of 1999 had many shortfalls, which were difficult to implement \t village level.

Presenting a paper entitled “The controversy around security of tenure in village land”, HakiArdhi executive director Yefred Myenzi said the present land legal framework hindered decision makers at village level to protect village land because they had limited powers compared to the commissioner of lands, the president and district councils.

He said village land administration organs oversaw chunks of land but made decisions on small portions of land, saying the village council was limited on allocation of land as it was limited to up to 50 acres and the village authority not beyond 100 acres.

Myenzi questioned the too much power the commissioner and the president they had, while the village fell within the village land category in which the village authority could have a final say.

He said it was important to enact the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 to address many land questions on village land whereby some rural community members accessed justice, ended their historical land conflicts, secured land but also the law contained some shortfalls.

“During the lifetime of the same law a lot of people in villages have lost their land, property and even their loved ones due to land problems,” Myenzi said.

He said the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 was bulky not reader friendly, not easily implemented and perpetuated insecurity of tenure on land to villagers due to its over emphasis on the commercial aspect of land versus its livelihood sustenance aspect.

“All these policy, technical and practical shortcomings call for a holistic reform to the land tenure system to guarantee the grassroots land holders and users to secure access to, ownership and control over land,” said Myenzi.

For his part, land officer from the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development Swagile Msananga said there were a number of challenges facing the Village Land Act No.5 of 1999 including lack of public awareness on land laws.

He said other challenge was that village council members lacked knowledge and skills on their role as council members on various laws on land, village boundary problems, lack of transparency and accountability in various councils, which led to lack of trust from the local community, which hindered development initiatives.

He said there was a need of continued public awareness and capacity building in local authorities at district, ward and village levels.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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