Tanzania: Communities are fighting for their rights

Tanzania: Communities are fighting for their rights

Tanzania: Communities are fighting for their rights   By Deodatus Mfugale April 8 2017 Issues surrounding disputes over land ownership  are many in Tanzania and in Africa generally. From 2000 to 2010, several violent conflicts in various parts of Tanzania occurred between agribusiness investors and communities. The conflict thus involved three parties, the government, the investor and the local community. The villagers found that the government had colluded with the investor to deny them the right to own land. “The government had given us a raw deal. It was bad enough to sell the farm to the investor when people in the village needed that land. Giving the investor additional land made our situation worse,” said Alex Kyando, a resident of Kapunga village. In 2006 when the Tanzania government decided to privatize the Kapunga Rice Farm located in Mbeya Region ( Southern Highlands) to Export Trading Company, local communities were very disappointed and responded in a violent manner. In Babati District of Manyara Region, communities set on fire Tanzanian investor of Asian origin’s houses, stores, machinery, tractors. His relatives were also killed. The bloody incident was a climax of a long-standing conflict between the two parties: local communities alleging that the investor had unlawfully taken their land and they wanted it back. But the land was sold to the investor for a 100 years lease agreement. The local community originally offered the land to the government to create a state farm. But   the government had failed to manage it. Government Now things are changing and the demand by communities to uphold the right to own land is paying off.  In 2015,  the government declared that it would give back to the community the 1, 875 hectares of land that were sold to the investor of Kapunga Rice Farm which were over and above the original size of the farm. The government declaration became effective last year when the Minister responsible for lands announced that the parcel of land in question had been handed over to Mbarali District Council. “We have revoked the title deed for the land that was not originally part of Kapunga Rice Farm when it was sold to Export Trading Company. The Mbarali District Council will survey the land and give it back to the villagers,” said William Lukuvi, Minister for Lands. Arguments Until January this year, the survey had been completed and the land handed over to Kapunga Village Government for allocation to community members. Although there are complaints from some individuals that the allocation was not done fairly, most of the community members are happy with the government’s decision and the subsequent actions by...

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