Unreasonable land parcels a concern – Schlettwein

By Rosalia David

THE Minister of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Calle Schlettwein has raised concern over the allocation of unreasonable sizes of land parcels on commonages saying that some communal land boards have been approving land rights exceeding 50 hectares for Customary Land Rights.
Schlettwein mentioned this at the first meeting of the Seventh Communal Land Boards which took place recently.
He said some communal land boards have also been approving land rights exceeding 100 ha in case of rights of leasehold.
“This is a contravention of the provisions of the Communal Land Reform Act. Many of those allocations have led to unnecessary disputes and litigation processes. I thus, urge you all, to refrain from this practice and be compliant to the provisions of the law. We are seized with the resolutions of the 2nd National Land Conference which call for preservation of commonage, removal of illegal fences among many others,” he said.
He further urged the board to also commit to abiding to the schedule of the meetings and discuss all items scheduled to be discussed.
Schlettwein said the board should apply fairness in the land processes act with urgency on all applications, reduce self-induced land disputes, implement directives and respect the legal advice as may be provided.
According to the minister, the board is expected to create awareness to their respective communities on the provisions of the Communal Land Reform Act, with an emphasis on non-compliance to the provisions of the Act, registration of land rights, illegal sand mining, deforestation and illegal fencing.
“Tenure security is part of their legal rights to have and nobody must stop anyone from applying for the registration of their land rights. Tenure security reduces incidences of land grabbing, evictions, non-compensation in terms of development and inheritance,” he added.
He went on to say that, should the board require legal opinion on how to deal with a specific matter, members should liaise with the minister’s office.
“I want to emphasise that it is my statutory duty to ensure that every land board submits its annual report to my office not later than 31 January of each year. A report indicating activities performed by each land board during the preceding year,” Schlettwein said.
The report should further indicate funds received and spent for accountability purposes.
These annual reports, said the minister, are to be submitted on time, to enable him to table them in the National Assembly.
In conclusion, Schlettwein said that he had consulted all governors on a possible policy review with regards to the allocation of land for the purpose of operating bottle stores and bars.
“It is my wish that we will find a solution to standardise allocations of land for those business ventures.”