Over 90 percent of the disputes reported at the Ombudsman’s office are land related.
This was revealed yesterday by the Ombudsman, Tito Rutaremara, at a workshop jointly organized by the Land Commission, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Rwanda Initiative for Sustainable Development.
For the past few months, the National Land Commission has been conducting an assessment on the implementation of the expropriation project and land disputes at national level.
The workshop, which attracted participants from all District land bureaus and partner institutions, aimed at validating findings of this assessment as well as examine the roles and responsibilities of concerned institutions.
“Currently, the Land Commission is weak and does not have a budget to facilitate its work,” Peter Bazimya, the president of National Land Commission told the meeting.
“We want to bridge any existing gaps and also promote cooperation among the land institutions so as to harmonize the land laws in a way that will benefit the Rwandan people”.
Bazimya said that currently, the use of conventional courts to solve land disputes remains a problem since some of the wrangles are complex and require solutions through dialogue and mediations.
Rutaremara told the workshop that many land wrangles started way back in 1959 when most people first fled Rwanda leaving their land and other properties to be occupied by others.
When they returned after 1994, they sought to reoccupy their land, creating a situation where ownership was being claimed by two or more owners.
“For this reason, we advised the use of informal dialogues and mediation to help involved parties reach a cheaper and fair common agreement,” Rutaremara said.
Rutaremara also addressed the issue of the Banyambo people in the eastern part of the country who are regarded as a minority clan with little civilization and speak a different language, saying that they have a right to ownership and development of their land.
Banyambo is a clan mainly found along Rwanda’s border with Tanzania and a small group of these is found in Rwanda where they have stayed for decades and have since acquired land and settled.
He said that it’s good to protect the minority groups because they are in most cases sidelined by land legislations.