Stakeholders in the agriculture sector, through their umbrella organisation, the Agricultural Council of Tanzania (ACT), are proposing the amendment of the Land Act, 1999 (Act No 4/1999) to minimise the overwhelming number of land conflict cases resulting from unclear policies.
According to Land Resources and Research Institute (HakiArdhi), at the moment, there are five land cases recorded daily, which translates to more than 1,000 annually…most of which involve pastoral and agricultural communities as well as powerful investors.
The move that is being orchestrated by ACT has come at a time when the number of land conflict cases has shot up, with the law being silent on coping up with the changing trends of land occupation and use.
Speaking during a stakeholders meeting in Dar es Salaam, the executive director of ACT, Ms. Janet Bitegeko, said the move is important because the country needed to have a clear land policy which is recognized by law to avoid violent and regular clashes resulting from the resource’s use.
Ms. Bitegeko said ACT was working in collaboration with agriculture stakeholders in the sector to propose amendments to various Acts and sections of the Land Act in the country.
She said this would prepare a clear land policy and laws which recognize all types of lands and their use.
The areas proposed for amendment include the Land Act section 113, Village Land Act section 114 and Urban Planning Act No 8 of 2007.
Land Act No 113 and the Village Land Act No 114 came into force on May 1, 2001, and Urban planning Act 8/2007 started to be used in the country in June 2008.
Despite the fact that the Land Act 113/1999 was amended in 2004, the Land Act 114/1999 has not been amended since its enactment –which calls for its amendment to comply with the national land policy of 1995 and the national development strategy.
Presenting a paper on ‘Land for Agriculture in Tanzania,’ Mr. Charles Mpaka, a lawyer with the ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives, said land conflicts have been prevalent in the country among pastoral and agricultural communities because the law did not state clearly categories of land and their use.
Mr. Mpaka said according to the Land Act 4/1999 and the Village Land Act 5/1999; land in Tanzania is a public resource and remained vested in the President as the trustee for and on behalf of all citizens of Tanzania.
For the purposes of the management of land under the Land Act and all other laws applicable to land, public land is in the following categories: (1) general land; (2) village land and (3) reserved land.
But according to Mpaka, these categories of land have many ambiguities and unexplained land uses, citing category 1 (general land) which encompass both unrecognized by law unreserved land for agriculture and the lawfully recognized land under Village Land Act, 5/1999 but unoccupied or unused land.
“The presence of the law protecting reserved land, but which does not include land for agriculture revokes small farmers’ rights to have suitable and arable land for agriculture in Tanzania,” said Mpaka, adding that land for agriculture in Tanzania is not recognized and protected by law.
This, he said calls for amendments if the country’s Kilimo Kwanza initiative and the National Strategy for Poverty Alleviation are to be realized.
Stakeholders proposed amendments or repeal of the Land Act chapter 113, section 19(2), 25(1) and 45(2) to limit the right of land occupancy to non-citizen investors in the country except through the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) derivative right as well as dealing with non-citizen investors who have titles for investment purpose not to sell the land or change the agreed usage of the land.
The proposals for amendments of The Land Act of 1999 are expected to be sent to the Ministry Of Land, Housing and Settlements for actions to take place. A move that is aimed at making sure that land-related conflicts in the country are resolved to benefit both the pastoral and agricultural communities.
The Tanzania land tenure system which originated from the German colonial rule (1885-1919) and later British colonial rule (1919-1961) placed all land in the hands of the state leaving the local people with no right to land ownership.
As well, The Land Act (1998) gives power to the state to order the people to vacate the land they are occupying in case it is deemed that land is needed for national interest, for example, mining. Once evicted, local people are entitled to compensation for the investment they have made on the land (for example, crops and houses) and not the land itself and minerals.
This situation has made many people, especially those whose land is endowed with minerals to remain poor since they are always evicted with very low or no compensation.