Yes, innocent people must be protected from looters


THE Regional Commissioner (RC) for Dar es Salaam, Mr Paul Makonda, has suspended the operations of all ward tribunals in his region because they have literally failed to relieve the suffering of people whose legal rights have been usurped by unscrupulous elements.

Mr Makonda has passed the duties of ward tribunals to division secretaries whom he has instructed to go round their respective wards and list the prevailing litigations and rulings and identify the professional qualifications of those who handled some of the cases.

The regional leader was particularly bitter that some greedy court brokers, bank officials and government officials collude to steal property from innocent people by forging documents. Mr Makonda was speaking recently in the presence of complainants. Some of the most alarming cases reported to the regional commissioner by distressed complainants included matters involving inheritance, marriage, employment, violence and conflicts over land.

Conflicts hinging on land and property were simply numerous. Indeed, Dar es Salaam is not the only region where residents often clash over land ownership. Land conflicts and clashes over ownership of landed property crop up anywhere nearly every day in this country. This is a confounding scenario.

The government, under close supervision from President John Magufuli, resolved more than 690 land conflicts out of a whopping total of 1,378 in the year 2016. In urban centres, conflicts over land pit developers against each other or against the government. In rural Tanzania misunderstandings over land often see farmers square off for a fight against cattle keepers. Others trigger squabbles between investors and villagers.

Land conflicts keep escalating despite state efforts to shoot them down. Since the year 2004, for example, a total of 117 land councils have met to find solutions to 103,000 conflicts. Numerous other land conflicts remained unresolved during this period.

These figures speak aloud about the magnitude of the problem. The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development says that land councils are expected to handle a shocking total of 12,000 conflicts a year.

Perhaps the bitterest conflicts over land pit farmers against cattle keepers. It is imperative to mention here that we all need the presence of farmers in this country as much as we need livestock keepers. While farmer till the land and grow food and cash crops, the cattle keepers produce the equally important cattle meat and milk.

Regional commissioners in the country have been instructed to set aside enough grazing land for the benefit of the pastoral communities, some of whom have their herds tucked deep in reserved forests or even national parks.

A similar directive has been passed further down to district commissioners who have been detailed to demarcate land for wildlife management and consequently resolve some of the conflicts over land. Indeed, these directives came at an opportune mome

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