The new draft law governing land has proposed major changes aimed to solve the identified issues in land management and use, the Minister of Environment has said. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya made the observation on February 23, while explaining the relevance of the bill which was tabled to a virtual plenary sitting of the Chamber of Deputies. The Lower House approved the relevance of the bill and it will now be examined by the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Livestock and Environment. The minister said that the outcome of a comprehensive analysis and stakeholders’ consultations which were conducted to assess the progress of implementation of the existing 2013 Land Law, revealed gaps including missing provisions on key issues. The issues include many cases in court related to prescription, subdivision of agriculture lands into portions of less than one hectare the management of state-owned under public institutions, efficient and rational use of land, among others. Under the current law, subdivision of agricultural, livestock and forests land is prohibited if the result of such subdivision leads to creating parcels of land with less than a hectare (1Ha) in size for each of them. In the revised law, such subdivision is now allowed to reduce informal land transactions and reduce land disputes emanating from shared ownership of land. However, Minister Mujawamariya told lawmakers that this will be done while at the same time ensuring strict enforcement of land use consolidation. Some MPs expressed concern about this proposal, arguing that over fragmenting land could adversely affect land use and management. MP Jean-Pierre Hindura said that the bill could help address many issues in land management and use. However, regarding the subdivision of land resulting in plots of less than one hectare each, there was a need to set limits for proper regulation. “If a person has land of say 100 square metres (m2), they might sell 10 m2 of it today, and sell another part of it later. There should be a limit, such as 300 m2 which is the size of the standard plot,” he said. MP John Ruku-Rwabyoma said that if a one-hectare-plot is subdivided into many parcels owned by different people, it would make land use and management a challenge as everyone would tend to plant a crop of their choice. Prescription of right to land In the 2013 Land Law, the competent court-approved prescription, but the new Land Law provides that the Registrar of Land Titles approves prescription based on the recommendation of the land committees. The reason for the change is to reduce cases in courts to approve prescription as the Registrar of Land Titles can be entrusted such power. Prescription is a period of time within which a right must be exercised, if not the right is extinguished. MPs wanted to know whether there is assurance that the information from the Land Committees will be factual so that the approval of the prescription is evidence-based. Mujawamariya said that the prescription accounted for over 60 percent of court cases. She reassured MPs that there will be caution, indicating that prescription occurs after 30 years. Meanwhile, as a shift towards introducing paperless land registry and promoting IT innovations in land management, the bill has introduced a new provision on the electronic land register.