ZANZIBAR President, Dr Ali Mohamed Shein, has urged judges and magistrates to come up with strategic legal interventions that will ultimately end persistent land conflicts in East Africa.
Speaking during the opening of the 17th Conference of the East African Magistrates and Judges' Association (EAMJA) yesterday, Dr Shein said there was an increase in land conflicts in the region caused by land scarcity and so there was a need to find a lasting solution.
He explained that an increase in the number of people and technological advancement had intensified competition in land use and ownership. "Demand for land for various socioeconomic activities has drastically increased in recent years, particularly for building houses, developing industries, agriculture, mining and road construction.
Hence, land conflicts as well as challenges related to environmental degradation have been so common," noted Dr Shein.
He said although in many African countries, land conflicts traditionally centred on land rights and boundaries, in the contemporary world investment was the main cause of conflicts between citizens and investors.
"Investments in various sectors of the economy such as mining, agriculture and tourism cause land disputes between local communities and investors.
This poses a serious threat to the development and security in East Africa and in many sub- Saharan countries,” warned Dr Shein, adding that the land conflicts had adverse effects on the implementation of development plans, environmental protection and on the general wellbeing of people.
"Therefore, there is a need for legal interventions to resolve land disputes and conflicts," he told EAMJA participants. He said Zanzibar had established the Land Tribunal to deal with land disputes effectively.