Land – the obstacle to EAC integration

As negotiations on the establishment of the East African Community Political Federation gather steam, citizens within the bloc remain wary that they would lose their land. These are the observations of a regional team of experts in a report titled; “Addressing the fears, concerns and challenges of the East African Federation” that was recently released.
AC-Minister-Hon-Monique-Mukaruliza-in-close-discussions--with-EAC-boss-Dr-Richard-Sezibera-during-the-just-concluded-regional-meeting-in-Bujumbura,-Burundi.
AC-Minister-Hon-Monique-Mukaruliza-in-close-discussions--with-EAC-boss-Dr-Richard-Sezibera-during-the-just-concluded-regional-meeting-in-Bujumbura,-Burundi.

As negotiations on the establishment of the East African Community Political Federation gather steam, citizens within the bloc remain wary that they would lose their land.

These are the observations of a regional team of experts in a report titled; “Addressing the fears, concerns and challenges of the East African Federation” that was recently released.

According to the report, which was based on political, economic, cultural and social concerns in citizens from all partner states, concerns were raised about differences in land tenure systems of partner states and loss of land due to free movement and rights of establishment within the EAC partner states.

Reports indicate that some member countries with huge chunks of unutilized land fear to lose their land to citizens from other member states once the political federation is effected.

Minister for EAC affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, clarified that the land issue is currently under the jurisdiction of the national policy in each of the five member states.

She, however, pointed out that the contentious issue would be later decided by a regional constitution that will govern political federation. 

“When we reach negotiations on the regional constitution, we shall see how the issue of land will be handled; but currently, it’s still at the national level,” she said.

The Minister further noted that if the political federation is achieved and the issue of land is resolved, partner states will benefit through investments.

“If someone comes from Tanzania or Kenya and wants to establish an industry in Rwanda, who will benefit? It’s not only the investor but also the host country,” she observed.

During the recent 13th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community in Bujumbura Burundi, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade, Lazaro Nyarandu, clearly stated that land should not be part of EAC political federation, claiming that some of the member countries have been eyeing Tanzania’s land with a “greedy eye”.

“We’ll never allow that, doing so would be betrayal of our own people. There are member countries that are struggling to bounce-back with the issue of land in the regional bloc’s set-up,” he said.

He stated that Tanzania position was very “firm” and would not be shaken when it comes to issues of national interests.

The protocol on EAC common market article 13 on the rights of establishment and residence gives rights to the nationals of the partner states to take up and pursue economic activities as a self employed person in the territory of another partner state.

Director of Land Administration at the National Land Centre, Francois Ntaganda, stated that in the country, everybody including citizens from other regional states and elsewhere in the world is free to own land in Rwanda.

“We don’t have any problem with land; anybody in the world is free to own a land in the country as long as you negotiate properly and buy it; we don’t discriminate,” he noted.

 Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, the dean of the faculty of law at the National University of Rwanda, who was among the experts who compiled the report, pointed out that a big percentage of people in the region depend on land for economic benefits, pointing out that this was the basis of the fears and concerns.


“We discovered that what caused fears among the people is overreliance on land. However, we advised partner states to initiate social-economic transformation programmes in order to minimise the subsistence use of land for sustainability,” he said.

As negotiations on the establishment of the East African Community Political Federation gather steam, citizens within the bloc remain wary that they would lose their land.

These are the observations of a regional team of experts in a report titled; “Addressing the fears, concerns and challenges of the East African Federation” that was recently released.

According to the report, which was based on political, economic, cultural and social concerns in citizens from all partner states, concerns were raised about differences in land tenure systems of partner states and loss of land due to free movement and rights of establishment within the EAC partner states.

Reports indicate that some member countries with huge chunks of unutilized land fear to lose their land to citizens from other member states once the political federation is effected.

Minister for EAC affairs, Monique Mukaruliza, clarified that the land issue is currently under the jurisdiction of the national policy in each of the five member states.

She, however, pointed out that the contentious issue would be later decided by a regional constitution that will govern political federation. 

“When we reach negotiations on the regional constitution, we shall see how the issue of land will be handled; but currently, it’s still at the national level,” she said.

The Minister further noted that if the political federation is achieved and the issue of land is resolved, partner states will benefit through investments.

“If someone comes from Tanzania or Kenya and wants to establish an industry in Rwanda, who will benefit? It’s not only the investor but also the host country,” she observed.

During the recent 13th Ordinary Summit of the East African Community in Bujumbura Burundi, Tanzania’s Deputy Minister for Industry and Trade, Lazaro Nyarandu, clearly stated that land should not be part of EAC political federation, claiming that some of the member countries have been eyeing Tanzania’s land with a “greedy eye”.

“We’ll never allow that, doing so would be betrayal of our own people. There are member countries that are struggling to bounce-back with the issue of land in the regional bloc’s set-up,” he said.

He stated that Tanzania position was very “firm” and would not be shaken when it comes to issues of national interests.

The protocol on EAC common market article 13 on the rights of establishment and residence gives rights to the nationals of the partner states to take up and pursue economic activities as a self employed person in the territory of another partner state.

Director of Land Administration at the National Land Centre, Francois Ntaganda, stated that in the country, everybody including citizens from other regional states and elsewhere in the world is free to own land in Rwanda.

“We don’t have any problem with land; anybody in the world is free to own a land in the country as long as you negotiate properly and buy it; we don’t discriminate,” he noted.

 Dr Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, the dean of the faculty of law at the National University of Rwanda, who was among the experts who compiled the report, pointed out that a big percentage of people in the region depend on land for economic benefits, pointing out that this was the basis of the fears and concerns.

“We discovered that what caused fears among the people is overreliance on land. However, we advised partner states to initiate social-economic transformation programmes in order to minimise the subsistence use of land for sustainability,” he said.

eric.kabeera@newtimes.co.rw  

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