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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

MPs: Action needed on mounting land disputes

25th July 2011

Legislators have told the government that many land disputes that occur today could be minimised if it took appropriate and immediate actions to solve them.

They said this on Saturday at a meeting organised by Tanzania Lands Alliance (TALA) here.

Accusing the government of dilly dallying, the MPs said indecisiveness on the part of state authorities, has been the major source of land disputes pitting farmers and pastoralists across the country.

TALA comprises various non-government organizations- Hakiardhi, Legal and Human Rights Centre, Women's Legal Aid Centre in Tanzania (WLAC), Lawyers' Environmental Action Team (LEAT), Pastoralists Indigenous NGOs (PINGOs Forum, Ujamaa Community Resource Trust (U-CRT), Mviwata is the acronym for the National Network of Small-Scale Farmers Groups in Tanzania.

The main agenda of the meeting, which brioght together farmers, pastoralists and MPs, was land disputes and other matters involving farmers and pastoralists in the country.

The MPs said they were fed up with the government habit of not addressing land disputes seriously, hence leaving them to mature conflicts.

Unresolved land disputes, they said, contribute over 65 percent of land conflicts between farmers and pastoralists, they said.

“The government has received many reports on land disputes, but no tangible actions have been taken to resolve them. Farmers, pastoralists and large scale investors, are scrambling for land…the government is quite,” Regia Mtema (Special Seats, Chadema) said.

She said in many land cases the government has most often sided with investors, creating the impression that state authorities are neglecting the nationals.

“How come every year, the government forms probe teams on land disputes that never unveil their reports to?” she queried.

Magdalena Sakaya (Special Seats, CUF) said the government has failed to effectively monitor operations of Property and Business Formalisation Programme (Mkurabita), resulting in leaders turning land disputes into their own projects.

She said many leaders in the conflicting areas are involved in soliciting bribes from the conflicting parties.

“The government has failed to put in place effective strategies to help pastoralist and farmers out of protracted land disputes,” the legislator said.

Sakaya accused leaders of using environmental destruction as a pretext to deny pastoralists the rights to own land.

Mtiker Kusurendwa, a pastoralist from Mpanda District, Rukwa Region, said some district executives have been moving around the animal-grazing areas, demanding money from herdsmen.

Philemon Ndesamuro (Moshi-Urban, Chadema) said the government needed to realise that no country or individual could develop economically without setting up mechanisms for proper utilisation of land.

He told the meeting, which was attended by Livestock and Fisheries deputy minister Benedict ole-Nangoro and Lands, Housing and Human Settlement deputy minister Goodluck ole Medeye, some government officers demand “pasture fees” money from pastoralists—ranging between 6m/- and 10m/-.

“…this is unfair and I believe, it is the main source of conflicts between the local leaders and pastoralists in Sumbwanga Rural District and many other areas in the country,” Kusurendwa said.

TALA Coordinator and Executive Director of Hakiardhi, Yefred Mienzi accused the government for delaying in finding out lasting solutions to the land disputes involving farmers, pastoralist and big investors.

He called on the MPs to cooperate with their voters in identifying the sources of the conflicts and finding out the solutions to the problems.

Responding, Livestock and Fisheries deputy minister Benedict ole-Nangoro, said the government will take initiative to divide land areas in accordance to use for farmers and pastoralists, in order to stave off land disputes.

Ole-Nangoro said the government is also looking for ways of raising awareness on land use to village executives to make them monitor land matters effectively.

Lands deputy minister Ole- Medeye asked TALA to assist the government in advising individuals not to sell their land to investors or any person before knowing the benefits they will reap by staying with their land.

“Tell them never to sell land and if they do so they have to ensure that they remain shareholders to enable them and their future generations to continue reaping the fruit of the resource,” Ole- Medeye said.

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