Zonal land offices set to be scrapped in new reforms

19Jul 2019
Polycarp Machira
The Guardian
Zonal land offices set to be scrapped in new reforms

The land sector is set for extensive reforms as the government makes radical changes including scrapping zonal land offices and establishing regional ones in a bid to take services closer to the people.

The Minister for Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development, William Lukuvi said yesterday that he has taken the step to simplify the services of settlements planning and legalization of informal settlements.

He said from next year the government will start to issue title deeds electronically across the country.

This will go alongside issuing of all land documents at the regional level, saving people, especially the rural population from travelling long distances to get documents.

Addressing a working meeting of land sector experts here yesterday, he said, "Those seeking title deeds will be able to process applications and make payment electronically in order to acquire them."

The three-day working meeting under the theme "Changes in Land Sector for Our National Development," brings together land officers, regional administrative secretaries and council directors from across the country to discuss projected changes in the land sector.

The minister said the land sector is set for major transformation following changes in administrative structures, including relocating land officers from the President's Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments) to the Land portfolio.

"Relocation of land officers to the Land ministry aims at uplifting the level of efficiency in settlements planning and legalization of informal settlement services. Previously, beekeeping and forest officers were also responsible for land services in councils," he stated.

Plans are underway for the government to bring all land services closer to the people by setting up regional offices responsible for land services, as by next October, members of the public will be able to access all land services in regional offices instead of zonal offices, the minister declared.

"Presently, residents of Kigoma Region have to travel all the way to Tabora Zonal Office to get land services, largely for legalization of informal settlements," he pointed out.

He warned land officers operating land companies while carrying out official duties, noting that such land officers should opt between businesses and public service.

On her part, the deputy minister, Angelina Mabula, underscored the need for land officers to apply customer care prerogatives while carrying out official duties.

"There is a dire need for change in order to match with projected transformation in the land sector", she said.

Earlier, Permanent Secretary Dorothy Mwanyika said that the working meeting was aimed at seeking solutions for challenges facing the land sector.

Among the topics to be presented are government security and confidential register keeping, the war against corruption in the land sector and the new structure of administration.

The meeting will provide land officers with an opportunity to conduct self evaluation in their performance, the top civil servant intoned.