Land is the single most valuable asset to the human being, a sure guarantee to life. Therefore denying land to the people is a total expropriation of the same. Land is the basis of livelihoods for the majority of the Tanzanian Citizens
The benefits that the people of Tanzania, foreigners or native citizens, derive from land range in intensity and importance. It is from land that small scale and large scale farmers, pastoralists, small miners, hunters, gatherers and a host of many different groups in the broad Tanzanian Community derive their day to day income and sustain their other socio-economic needs. Land is therefore the core of life of the people of Tanzania.
The current constitution provides that “every Tanzanians have the right to own property and has the right to the protection of such property” (chapter 24 article 1). Land is thus assumed to be covered within this article. As a result, Tanzanian citizens, the majority of whom are rural based small producers, and whose livelihoods are directly attached to land lack security of tenure.
This is reflected in the land legislation which recognizes and put much regard to the user rights vis a vis ultimate ownership right that is instead, vested in the presidency in the form of radical title. This, alone, has had a lot of implications especially when there is a change in interests over the land owned customarily by small producers.
Evictions of small scale village farmers, families, pastoral small miners communities, acquisition and transfers of village lands for other usages that do not directly benefit these communities, encroachment of common land through gazette of reserve land and resettlement of other marginalized groups to pave way for large scale, and in most cases foreign investment, but some of the most prevalent cases to exemplify this assertion.
It is on the basis of the foregoing that we find it imperative to advocate for more protection of the land rights of the majority of the Tanzanian citizens and security of tenure in the constitution. The ongoing discussion about the new constitution making in Tanzania, is such a noble opportunity for land and human rights activists in Tanzania to engage in dialogue with the authorities that have influence in policy making and especially the new constitution.
Such interaction could be more meaningful if those Tanzanian Citizens, who have tirelessly worked to mobilize, demand and advocate for people’s rights to land are directly involved in the proposed mechanisms to collect people’s views and draft the articles of the new constitution, for it is undeniably true that they have not only the knowledge but also the zeal, commitment and patriotism to defend the interests and rights of majority citizens who depend on land for their living.
This petition is one of the many ways to support the idea that land and land rights of Tanzanian citizens need to be clearly stated, promoted, secured and protected in the new Constitution and that ultimate powers to decide on land and related resources be vested in the people with strict regulatory, administration and management mechanisms into state institutions to be included in the constitution.
By appending my signature to this petition I declare my support to ensure that land is a constitutional category. I also support that the citizens should be given the right to own land and have the security of tenure on the land. I also support that the voice of the citizens who have fallen victims of land injustices be heard by the constitution review commission.