Revise law that denies smallholder land owners title deeds, say citizens

A survey, “Study on User’s perception of the quality and impact of Rwanda laws,” whose findings were revealed last week, shows public concern of failure to access titles for small landowners, who said this hampers access to social and financial facilities.

A survey, “Study on User’s perception of the quality and impact of Rwanda laws,” whose findings were revealed last week, shows public concern of failure to access titles for small landowners, who said this hampers access to social and financial facilities. 

A lawmaker has thrown his weight behind citizen call on the Government to revise the law governing land, specifically the clause that denies owners of assets of less than one hectare title deeds.

MP Gabriel Semasaka, a member of the parliamentary Committee in charge of Agriculture, said various studies had made a case for the revision of the law.

The latest, a survey whose findings were revealed last week, raised the issue further as stakeholders convened to validate its findings.

The study, “Study on User’s perception of the quality and impact of Rwanda laws,” was commissioned by the Rwanda Law Reform Commission, and executed by ADEC Ltd, an organisation of law practitioners.

The findings revealed public concern of failure to access titles for small landowners, who said this hampered access to social and financial facilities.

But MP Semasaka argued that whoever possesses land should have their name reflected on the title deed.

The legislator’s stance is given credence in the survey, whose findings noted that although land-related laws that include land registration, expropriation, and lease, sharing and mortgage were in place, a lot still needed to be done, especially modalities of acquiring land titles.

The law governing land does not address concerns of beneficiaries of freehold title land, unlike previous laws; therefore, citizens owning small parcels of land who wish to have land title are denied the privilege.

David Bikesha, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda’s, College of Arts and Social sciences, who co-authored the report, told The New Times that people complained about lack of ownership of their property, which restricted them to limited services.

“We realised that land less than a hectare could not be given a title deed. A case in point is where a parent who might decide to divide his property among his children would still hold the title even when land was distributed among the children,” he explained.

“Children would equally complain that they could not seek financial services, simply because they could not deposit land credentials as security because the title deed was in the name of their parents.”

MP Semasaka said that even if such owners did not have title deeds in their names, they should still access financial services using that particular title as long as the required service is proportionate to the value of the land.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

 

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