The call was made recently by Namwawala councillor Godfrey Lwena during an awareness and sensitisation meeting on the programme to councillors, ward executives and other village leaders held at Ifakara in Kilombero District.
He said that despite the expected benefits of the programme, it was likely to face difficulties due to the pending cases at the High Court, Land Division, which may cause delays in implementing the project.
“Almost three quarters of the area in Kilombero and Ulanga district councils has been blocked from benefiting from the programme due to pending cases in court..."
"This may cause the government to fail to attain its objectives through this programme,” he said.
Lwena cited cases pending in Court as No. 40 /2012 involving nine villages in Kilombero Valley and Case No.9 of 2014 involving Mbingu Village against a transport Company which is claimed to have taken 7,200 hectares of village land.
Anaother as Case No. 111 of 2012/2016 involving 126 villages against RAMSAR project through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in a project aimed at protecting catchment areas in a bid to ensure that Kilombero Valley remains the major source of water, nutrients and energy for Tanzania.
He noted that with all cases pending in court, it would be difficult for the programme to be implemented smoothly unless they were withdrawn resolved through mediation.
Lwena called upon the Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, William Lukuvi, to communicate with Kilombero and Ulanga district councils and petitioners to review the possibility of resolving the land disputes out of court.
“Through mediation, the conflicting parties may decide to withdraw the cases from the court to allow a majority of villagers to benefit from the programme,” he said.
A councillor for Mbingu ward, Nestory Mkula, said that lack of involvement by villagers on issues related to their land had resulted in an increasing number of disputes in their areas.
He cited a village in his ward where the boundary with a nearby village was a forest but to date the forest has been turned into a sugarcane estate without the knowledge of villagers, thus resulting in a village boundary dispute.
Uchengule ward councillor Boniventure Mwite said there was need to address issues which may cause delays in implementing the programme.
He urged land experts to work on legal contradictions on issues related to land which might cause a delay in implementing the programme.
Mwite said that when implementing the programme there are laws governing land, water and the environment, thus issues should be cleared to avoid contradictions during the implementation of the programme.
He said there was a need to educate villagers on laws governing lands, water, environment and animals to avoid such contradictions.
LTSP coordinator Godfrey Machabe, however, said they had taken seriously all the issues raised by the stakeholders and were working on them for smooth implementation of the programme.
He said the programme was crucial for the development of the villagers and the land sector in general.
He added that it was aimed at supporting a more transparent, efficient and better-resourced land sector and ensuring that current and future demand for land led to beneficial and equitable outcomes for Tanzania’s rural populations.
He, however, noted that the programme, which will be implemented for three years starting this year, is expected to cost USD 15.2 million that will be provided as a grant by development partners.
“Development partners who have funded this project include the UK government through the Department for International Development Agency (DFID), Denmark through the Danish International Development Agency and Sweden via the Swedish International Development Agency,” Machabe said.
Kilombero District Commissioner Lephy Gembe assured the councillors that the National Land Use Planning Commission would visit all areas in the district to identify all the problems related to land as well as find out how they could be resolved before land use planning.
He called upon the villagers to collaborate with a team of experts who would be implementing the programme.
He said the project was crucial for Kilombero District because it would enable villagers to have legal ownership of their land and benefit from their land through the use of title deeds as collateral for accessing loans from banks.