21/02
2010

Tanzania Land Policy and Genesis of Land Reform Sub - Component Of Private Sector Competitivess

Historical Context of Land Tenure: Before colonialism landholding was based on customary laws of the different tribes in Tanzania (in all 120). Title to the land was based on traditions and customs of respective tribes. Ownership of land was communal, owned by family, clan or tribe. Chiefs, headmen and elders had the powers of land administration in trust for the community. These powers continued through the colonial era though they were limited by the newly introduced German and later British land tenure system under which all lands were declared to be crown and public lands respectively. The customary land tenure is still in place, but since 1963 the chiefs, headmen and elders have been replaced by elected village councils.
Tanzania was under German colonial rule form 1884 to 1916 and British rule from 1917 to 1961. The country attained its Independence in 1961.
The Germans issued an Imperial Decree in 1985 which declared that all land, whether occupied or not was treated as unowned crown land and vested in the Empire, except claims of ownership by private persons, chiefs or native communities which could be proved. A distinction was made between claims and rights of occupancy. Claims were to be proved by documentary evidence while occupation by fact of cultivation and possession.In practice only settlers engaged in plantation agriculture such as sisal, coffee, rubber and cotton, etc, could prove their title and enjoyed security of tenure. The indigenous people could not prove ownership. Hence, they were left with permissive rights of occupancy.