KIGALI - President Paul Kagame wound up the land re-distribution supervision exercise in the Eastern Province yesterday. One hundred and eighteen jubilant people, formerly landless, benefited yesterday alone from the re-distribution exercise, which the President launched last week. The function, in Ndego Sector in Kayonza District, saw various government and military officials who earlier owned over 2000 hectares of land shared out.
President Kagame reminded the beneficiaries and former landlords that putting land to good use will solve many problems the country is currently facing.
He said that land should be used in a way that even those without land can benefit. He stressed that there is not enough land for everybody in the country.
Among those who formerly owned big chunks of land that were re-allocated was businessman Alfred Nkubiri who had 508 hectares, so far the largest ever since the exercise started on Tuesday last week.
However, unlike others, Nkubiri was told to lease more 25 hectares on top of the mandatory 25 that all former landlords retain.
This was done because of the various investments he has established on that land.
The President said that there was no need to take away all the land from the businessman because what he did was benefiting the general public.
The President said that in case Nkubiri needed more land to expand his enterprises, he should get it.
“The commission has asked him for a plan of action and if he needs more land, we shall give it to him on lease basis,” the Governor of the Eastern Province Theoneste Mutsindashyaka said.
Nkubiri said he is currently employing 70 people on his farm, which is located in Mpanga sector of Kirehe District “And my target Mr President, is having 160 people in my employ by 2009,” he said.
Some of the people whose farms were re-distributed yesterday included Governor Mutsindashyaka (105 hectares), State Minister for Lands Patricia Hajabakiga (56 hectares) and Rwanda’s Ambassador to the US James Kimonyo, who had 176 hectares.
Others are Lt. Gen. Charles Muhire (119 hectares), Col. Aloys Muganga (199 hectares), Patrick Ngoga (384 hectares) and Edgar Rwangabwoba (380 hectares).
Overjoyed beneficiaries from the exercise showered the President with praises after receiving their temporary titles, which made them land owners.
“I had not dreamt of one day owning land for myself...I had never owned land now I will at least have basis for survival,” Ezekiel Nzabonumukiza, a cripple who was among the beneficiaries, said.
Minister Hajabakiga reminded the new land owners to use it in line with the environment conservation policy.
“Most people here (who got the land) have their land next the lake, you have to respect the policy by keeping 50 metres away from the lake shores,” she said.
The farm where the exercise was conducted belonged to Gen. Muhire. It is near the shores of Lake Rwanyamiyaga.
Hajabakiga said that a land use master plan is being drafted adding that some people’s land may be found suitable for other developmental activities. “But you will be compensated if you are relocated,” she said
The land re-distribution will continue after the President’s launch tour that took him through most of the districts in the province as he supervised the exercise.
The districts covered are Nyagatare, Gatsibo, Kayonza and Kirehe, which are dominantly occupied by pastoralists.