Whichever way one looks at it, land is one of the most prized natural assets in the world – Tanzania not excepted, we stress here. This is especially the case for crop farmers, nomadic pastoralists and investors in income-generating-cum-profit-making businesses.
Also, boundary conflicts between neighbouring land owners are not unknown.
In Tanzania, land conflicts date back to the bad old days when sedentary crop farmers saw their blooming farms invaded by hungry livestock herds of nomads, thus ruining the farmers’ prospects for rich harvests in return for the sweat of their brows.
Beginning in relatively recent times, land woes were compounded by investors who wanted land for income-generating activities. The Hanang Wheat Scheme of the 1970s is a good example of this.
Central and local governments have been trying to resolve land conflicts between the different stakeholders across the country down the years.
But, this has had little or no positive or lasting solution.
And, the situation has taken a turn for the worse in Hanang District, Manyara Region, where grazing land has almost all been gobbled up – so to speak – by crop farms, human settlements and modern infrastructure, including roads.
While the foregoing developments are admittedly socioeconomically positive in ways more than one, they nonetheless exclude nomadic pastoralism from socioeconomic development activities.
And, with livestock corridors to/from watering holes virtually taken over by such developments, the animals use highways instead, where many of them are killed by speeding vehicles.
This has prompted a Manyara women’s rights activist, Ms Martha Laurent, to urge statutory land demarcation for crop-farming and for livestock grazing in coherent land use plans.
Fair enough, but land conflicts are a national problem – and what’s good for Manyara is good for Tanzania across the board.
Hence our supportive call for the relevant authorities to heed Ms Laurent on this – and involve all stakeholders in a countrywide exercise.
LEARN FROM THE PROPERTY TAX SAGA
The new system whereby property tax is deducted monthly from payments for prepaid electricity took effect last Friday, but there are still too many unanswered questions. This is despite the fact that the changes were adopted in June when Parliament passed the government’s 2021/22 Budget.
After the arrangement came into effect, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) found themselves scrambling to respond to queries that were supposed to have been answered comprehensively immediately after Parliament passed the current Budget.
Some of the many pertinent questions are: what is the arrangement for buildings with multiple meters? What about mud houses connected to electricity in rural areas? What is the status of houses belonging to senior citizens aged 60 and above, who are exempt from paying property tax? Who between the landlord and tenant is supposed to pay property tax through electricity purchases?
The way TRA and Tanesco have responded to these questions shows that the whole arrangement has been rushed merely because it was expedient to do so. As a result, there are still plenty of loose ends. This should serve as a vital lesson.