Integrating Customary Land Registry and Conflicts Settlements into Statutory Systems

Village Land Registry and Statutory Land Tenure Systems

The village land registry is an important component of land administration systems, because important documents of land rights are stored. Setting of village and district land registries becomes obligatory under section 21(3) of Village Land Act 1999. The village land registry is supposed to be a simple record of intra-village customary ownership, as well as all internal land transactions and dispositions. At the village level, Village Executive Officers (VEO) supervise the village land registry. In this regard, the VEO record all land transactions, available information on land use and tenure in case of land disputes, and update the records of the latest landowners. The Village Land Regulations 2001 sections 52-59 state that VEOs are also responsible for feeding this information to the district land registry (URT, 1999, 2001). Due to these legal requirements, land registries were established in Babati and Iringa districts

The establishment of a land registry in rural villages integrates rural land rights with the national statutory systems. It is through these registries that CCROs, land use plans, and reports on land disputes are kept. Traditional information about land rights is legally stored through these registries. Nevertheless; efforts to enhance information access and reduce asymmetry in rural areas suffer from various malpractices. Firstly, enforcement of record-keeping is not properly undertaken, some land transactions are still being done without the involvement of the village government, and most land subdivisions and transactions proceed without official land transfers. This is contrary to the Village Land Act 1999 section 3 and the Village Land Regulations 2001 section 38 which state that “the records of all dispositions and transactions involving customary rights of occupancy and derivative rights, including any cautions entered on the register section 3 of the Title register” must be kept. The problem is also exacerbated by a lack of understanding among the VEOs and farmers on the land laws and regulations. According to Pedersen (2010), Lugoe (2015), and Fitzgerald (2017), the majority of village leaders have not received training on land policies, laws, and regulations; and frequent transfer of government officials at village level interfere with formalization efforts.

Secondly, the design and operation of the registry shows that the documents stored in this registry have a lower value. There are poor storage devices and they are unsecured, as presented in

Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source

FIGURE 9.5 Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source: Field Data, 2016.

Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source

FIGURE 9.6 Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source: Field Data, 2017.

Figures 9.5, 9.6 and 9.7. Some land registries have doors which are of a wooden design, and documents are kept on the floor and in boxes. This is contrary to what has been stated in the Village Land Act 1999 section 21 which requires the document should be kept in a dry and safe place.

Thirdly, the operation of the village land registry shows that documents are not seriously kept or stored, and not computerized (analogous to the system of filing). The village land registry is not linked to the national land management system. It is a village-isolated information management system. A lack of serious documentation suggests the land registry is not valued. The implications for the unvalued documentation of land information shows that the current practices and operation of land registry do not guarantee land owners their security of land rights. This occurs because one

Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source

FIGURE 9.7 Improper storage of CCROs in Ndiwili Village Land Registry. Source: Field Data, 2018.

copy of a CCRO is kept at the village land registry, and in case it is stolen or village leaders conspire to change the ownership status, the buyers or sellers are threatened over their ownership.

Land Dispute Settlements as a Platform for Integrating Customary Land Tenure into Statutory Systems

Land disputes have been one among the challenges of land administration system in Africa for the past three decades. The challenges have been mitigating escalating conflicts, and handling their impacts (Benjaminsen, Maganga, and Abdallah, 2009). The dominating conflicts have been farmer- herder, boundary conflicts, especially in borders between villages and conservation or forest areas. This case may be highlighted by a conflict between Sangaiwe village and Tarangire national park in Babati district which persisted between 1990s and 2000s. The villagers claimed that the boundary boards in the mountain which separates Tarangire National Park and Sangaiwe village were put in the wrong place by the government during the village boundary survey, village conflicts, and institutional conflicts. Traditionally, these conflicts were dealt through negotiation, fines, penalties, traditional arrangement of land uses, and shared practices. Village, hamlets and family meetings were key platforms for conflict settlements. Post-conflicts and trauma have been worked through with traditional healings, taboos, and prayers (Massay, 2016). In all these practices, clan heads, the elderly, chiefs, and herbalists were involved in dispute settlements. In the context of land reforms, and formalization, statutory land disputes settlement platforms have been established. These are the village councils, ward tribunals, district land, and housing tribunals (DLHT), the high court (land division), and the court of appeal of Tanzania. These are supported by laws and regulations such as the Courts (Land Dispute Settlement) Act 2002 (No. 2 of 2002).

The enactment of these laws and regulations is an integration of customary practices of conflicts settlements and mediation. Village councils are legally recognized by the Land Dispute Settlement Act and the policy as a lawful platform for conflict settlement. However, the law has not recognized the hamlets, family, and clan meetings as appropriate platforms. This chapter considers this as a drawback because these are immediate platforms to initiate the process of conflict settlement. Lastly, this integration, although it established a legitimate procedure for conflict settlement, has undermined traditional procedures of fines and penalties which previously encouraged togetherness.

Traditional punishments were mostly in form of non-monetary value and compensation. For example, offenders paid crops, animals, and alcohol to the village and affected persons. The established punishments in terms of compensation money and recovery money have affected the traditional conflict settlements proceedings. This is because monetary punishments are accompanied by costs which discourage rural people. Formalization of DLHT analogous to formal courts acts as a disincentive for people who are afraid of the court due to their lack of education. Consequently, this integration disfavors efforts geared towards security of land tenure.

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