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Tanzania’s land policy unruffled by planned EAC market

Daily News, Tanzania

Tanzania’s land policy unruffled by planned EAC market

Deogratias Mushi in Dodoma

1 November 2008

The planned common market of the East African Community (EAC) that is expected to become operational in 2010 will not affect Tanzania’s land policy, it has been said. Opening a parliamentary seminar that discussed the EAC common market debate here yesterday, the Minister for East African Cooperation Dr Diodorus Kamala insisted that foreigners would not be given mandate to buy or own land in Tanzania.

Tanzania’s land tenure system has undergone several changes since colonial time, including the declaration that all land is owned by the government in trust for the whole nation with different legal regimes applying to rural and urban areas. Dr Kamala said that the cabinet of ministers met recently, and one of its resolutions was a strong affirmation to the law applying that the land should continue to be owned by the state.

Speaking at the seminar, some MPs urged the government to continue improving the country’s economy, as it prepares to join the EAC common market aimed at enabling the region to stimulate economic activity. Mr Suleiman Kumchaya (Lulindi-CCM) said interests of the Tanzanians should first be taken into consideration as the country moves from the customs union to the common market.

Longido MP Mr Lekule Laizer urged the partner states to get one currency before moving to the common market, as that could make the countries avoid trade imbalances. He said trans-border trade between Kenya and Tanzania benefitted Kenyans more because their currency is stronger than the Tanzanian one.

He also warned the government to be wary of Kenyans who were flocking into the country in thousands, saying such a sign shows that the neighbouring country was facing land scarcity. Same MP Mrs Anne Kilango Malecela (CCM) and Dr Christian Mzindakaya (Kwela-CCM) both criticized some Kenyan nationals with vested interests in matters related to EAC common market.

Dr Mzindakaya told the seminar participants that the Kenyan government had banned businessmen and women from the neighbouring country to stop buying meat from his Rukwa meat canning factory. Mr Hafidh Ali Tahir (Dimani-CCM) cautioned the government to create harmony between Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar before joining the common market, to enable two parts of the Union to benefit from the EAC.

He sounded pessimistic when he alleged that Zanzibar was lagging behind in issues related to the EAC, views that were strongly objected to the Deputy Minister for EAC cooperation, Mr Mohamed Aboud. Mr Abour informed Mr Tahir that EAC implemented more projects in Zanzibar than it did in Tanzania mainland.