Disharmony and inefficiencies in land management processes have birthed what is to become the first consolidated national land policy, provided the proposition gets the green light from legislators.
Initially tabled in 2013 but owing to time constraints the issue was not conclusively debated. It is now fermenting at the policy drawing board.
The policy’s primary goals as explained by the minister of Lands and Housing, Prince Maele in Parliament this week are to protect and promote land rights of all landholders as well as sustainable human settlements.
It also seeks to usher in solutions tailor made for this century to the bucket full of challenges that the land fraternity is enveloped in.
“The policy also aims at improving land allocation through establishing an up-to-date land information management system,” he said.
The ultimate goal is to address prevailing challenges in the national land management processes whose repercussions, according to Maele, are shortage of land settlement for expansion especially, in areas surrounded by either freehold farms, national parks and arable farming areas; numerous transfers and sale of land; and transfers of undeveloped land to buyers.
“Illegal occupation of land commonly known as squatting, failure to comply with development covenants by allottees; both in terms of paying for land and also developing within stipulated time lines; under-utilisation of allocated land being put to productive use; and competition for land which results in landuse conflict, especially between wildlife and human activities,” explained the minister.
Current land management practices are marred by fragmentation and lack of coordination.
“Previous land management practices have been fragmented due to numerous policy initiatives implemented by many agencies in an uncoordinated manner,” he further stated.
It is against this backdrop that conflicts arose as the various agencies acted independently of each other. There was therefore, a need to coordinate efforts as well as to
As a result, the policy focuses attention on four areas of land tenure, access to land and protection of land rights, land management and administration and institutional and legal framework.
Proposals on the issue of land tenure include, among others, registration of customary land grants, to enhance the value to tribal land grants in particular. Access to land and protection of land rights is meant to address both the social and economic needs of the country.
“The underlying principle is to enhance the security of tenure while enabling our citizens to take part in the socio economic development of the country,”
On registration of land, the policy proposes to introduce electronic conveyancing as well as introducing and creating standard forms for as many common registerable transactions as possible ‘in order to open the monopoly’.
“Regarding transfer and land rights, the policy will maintain the current position to forbid the transfer of underdeveloped land. This is meant to discourage acquisition of free or subsidised land for speculative purposes,” said Maele.
On the critical component of land management and administration, the policy proposes that all areas be declared planning areas to deal with issues of landuse conflict, inefficient utilisation of land and settlement sprawls.
“The policy further proposes to encourage private sector participation in land servicing as well as the standardisation of land allocation procedures,”
Initially, the policy had proposed that original or indigenous inhabitants be given preference in land allocation. At the time key debates on the policy centred on affirmative land allocation in peri-urban areas. Subsequent to intense debates, the policy was withdrawn in July 2014 for refinement, Maele explained.