Land administration practices in Tanzania: a replica of past mistakes

Publication Date08 April 2019
AuthorSamwel Alananga,Elitruder Richard Makupa,Kerbina Joseph Moyo,Upendo Chamuriho Matotola,Emmanuel Francis Mrema
SubjectProperty management & built environment,Building & construction,Building & construction law,Real estate & property,Property law
Land administration practices
in Tanzania: a replica of
past mistakes
Samwel Alananga,Elitruder Richard Makupa,Kerbina Joseph Moyo,
Upendo Chamuriho Matotola and Emmanuel Francis Mrema
Department of Land Management and Valuation, Ardhi University,
Dar es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania
Purpose This paper aims to examine currentland administration practices (LA) in Tanzania to pinpoint
divergencesand convergences from past experiences that necessitatedthe 1990s reforms.
Design/methodology/approach Literature review was carriedout to understand historical practices
which were then matchedwith current regulatory framework and observable LApractices captured through
in-depth individualand group interviews of LA professionals in the public and private sectors, as well as LA
customersin Dodoma Region Tanzania.
Findings The current practicesand governments responses through land law reformsis largely a replica
of what happened in the pre- and post-independence eras until just before the 1990s reform and is still
characterised by corruption, inefciency in service delivery and poor coordination among LA actors. It
introduces supercialland governance structure over customaryland as it was during colonialism; induces a
temporary hikes in title delivery without any sustainability prospects just as it was immediately after
independence; and induces more uncertainties for local land holders/investors than it addresses as it was
during the implementation of the 1982 agricultural policy. Furthermore, the current awareness education
during rural land titling programmes is inadequate to address the perceived risk of land alienation and
dispossessionamong the poor.
Practical implications A uniform LA system and tenure type throughout Tanzaniathat cater for the
need of the time rather than a fragmentedsystem of LA, which fuels maladministration and inefciency in
LA, is dearly needed.
Originality/value Convergenceof current LA practices with some of the worst past experiences explains
some failuresin land policy reform in Tanzania and the developingworld in general.
Keywords Tanzania, Land, Administration practices, Land administration, Land laws, Land policy
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Market economies have systems of land administration (LA), which besides
guaranteeing land rights and security of tenure, provide the basis for land distribution
and re-distribution, property taxation and the implementation of land reform policies
(Mtatikolo and Lugoe, 2007). LA is therefore, among the core functions of
governments across the globe (Larsson, 1991;Fimbo, 2004). It includes a number of
activities related to:
cadastral survey and parcellation of the territorial land and granting of land rights;
control of development conditions and conict resolution (Mtatikolo and Lugoe,
Received12 February 2018
Revised17 October 2018
Accepted26 October 2018
Journalof Property, Planning and
Vol.11 No. 1, 2019
pp. 30-50
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JPPEL-02-2018-0005
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
In most of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), LA is characterised by legal pluralism whereby
several legal orders (two or more legal frameworks) coexist in a given social context
(Moyo, 2017;Adams and Turner, 2005). A formal or legal system also called the
conventional one havingits origin during colonialism to deal with land held initially by non-
African settlers, whilst customarylawhave persisted among local/native communities. In
urban Tanzania, landholding is guided by the Land Act (1999) where Certicate of Rights of
Occupancy (CROs) are providedas evidence of rights granted over a particular piece of land.
Land use in the rest of rural areasconsidered as villages is through Certicate of Customary
Right of Occupancy (CCROs), which can only be issued in a registered village with a
certicate of registration, i.e. the VillageLand Certicate (VLC). A CRO derivative right can
also be issued in both ruraland urban areas especially when land is acquired for investment
purposes. For that to take effect in rural areas, village land must be transferred to what is
called General land underthe Land Act, No. 4 1999.
Therefore, in rural areas, one observesintermingled tenure systems whereby apart from
reserved land (if available), thereare local CCROs and CRO derivatives. In as much as land
administration is concerned, the three are difcult to separate. With regard to customary
land holdings, the Britishcolonial governments had taken the following view:
It would be imprudent to disregard the ingrained traditional African conceptions of security in
land, and they have sought to foster an atmosphere of condence and contentment by
guaranteeing the perpetuation of those forms of customary security in land which most of the
African people themselves have been anxious to maintain (East Africa Royal Commission, 1955).
The preceding extract anchors on the long enshrined view that customary laws should
continue to prevail in relation to land holdingand use. Whether customary or statutory, LA
systems exist to safeguard the enjoyment of land rights by individual holders and
communities. The colonialmentality which Tanzania has adopted entails separating people
from the resources they dearly need; natural forest, wild animal reserves, water catchment
areas, etc., but customary structures were meant to protect these for not only the current
generation but also future generations through appropriate customary land management
practices. When some parts ofvillage land are taken by a conservation authority and/or the
investor, villagers remains only with marginal land held under customary laws. This legal
pluralistic land holding cannot protect peopleslivelihood rather it might kill them as it
detaches them from the natural resources that they need the most, i.e. as sources of water
and food.
From the view point of the Evolutionary Theoryof Land Rights (ETLR) (Platteau, 1996),
land rights are born out of insecurity of tenure where customary land owners faces
competition from external actors. With limited competition, common property regimes are
highly prevalent but with increased competition private property regimes emerge. Open
access regimes may emerge when some people can restrict land access within specied
groupings and State regimes emanates from the intention of the government to forcefully
control land rights (Moyo, 2017;Clarke and Kohler, 2005). Under state regime, individuals
are only allocated user rights of various types and limited management rights. When land
right emerges from weak and incomplete state intervention, legal pluralism is likely to
emerge as a weak state cannot impose an effective LA over the entire territory. This
pluralism has been at the core of LA failure inTanzania and the 1995 National Land Policy
(NLP) reforms intended to address it through improved land information delivery. The
objective of this paper is thereforeto explore the extent at which the approaches adopted in
the implementation of the NLP reforms differ substantially with prior LA approaches that

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