Magufuli’s Tanzania Kills Rural Development By Seizing Farms

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It’s entirely true that Tanzania needs more development. It’s also true that it needs more rural and agricultural development, the country has bounteous land a lot of which is un- or barely- used. The question is, how to encourage that development of that land? The correct answer not being to confiscate it. But that’s what Magufuli’s Tanzania is in fact doing at present:

Dodoma — The government has warned Mohamed Enterprises Tanzania Ltd (MeTL), whose majority shares are owned by Mohammed Dewji, that it will revoke ownership of its (the firm’s) six farms if it (the company) fails to develop them as a matter of urgency.

The one single most important thing that encourages investment, and thus development, is security of property. Why would anyone invest in bringing a farm up to date and to full production if the government can just walk in any day and take that farm – plus, obviously enough, the added investment – away again.

That they’ve not developed the land as yet doesn’t change this:

Mr Lukuvi’s statement comes barely one month since the government revoked ownership of six farms owned by Mr Dewji’s MeTL in Tanga.

Why would he invest in these ones today if the government’s taken away ones in the past? That they have taken past ones means, of course, that there’s a definite disincentive to invest now, isn’t there? And which bank would lend for such investment given that the security is available only at the whim of government?

People will only invest if there is security of ownership. So, kill that security and you’ll kill further investment. Which really isn’t what a place as poor as Tanzania needs now, is it?

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Jonathan Harston
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Jonathan Harston

Might the Homesteader/Adverse Possession principle work, like the opening of the American West? If an individual finds a piece of undeveloped land they can fence it, develop it, and it becomes theirs. If somebody wants to argue a prior claim they have to object within a set time period showing how they have a prior claim.

Shadeburst
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Shadeburst

Personally I would improve the land by ploughing it with salt.

Mike Chambers
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Mike Chambers

The problem you are describing doesn’t stem from Magufuli. I farmed for twenty years in Tanzania and struggled with the pressures the land laws put on agriculture. In legal terms a company or person can’t own land. Land is owned by the state and people and companies hold long term leases. This significantly strengthens those who argue they own land through traditional tribal rights which are effectively pre-legal. You can go to the bank with your lease-hold documents and use them as security. That part of the system works. However there are laws saying if you hold a lease you… Read more »