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Government’s land  recovery from illegal owners in process- how far?

Donat Nshimiyumukiza, owns 8ha- land  in Mugina Sector , Kamonyi District, in the Southern Province. However, he was surprised when the government officials reached him asking him to hand in her documents showing how he got the land.

Donat is said to have got the land he currently owns during his reign as a Burgomaster (Mayor) of the former Mugina Commune but insists he was granted the land, like other residents, through the legal process as the documents he issued to the District reveal.

“I met the officials from the office of the Ombudsman and asked me to show land property documents as the only proof that I was granted the land through a legal process. I submitted the documents to the District and I am waiting for the outcome of the investigations on these documents,” said Nshimiyumukiza.

Nkurunziza Jean de Dieu, former Executive Secretary of Mugina Sector, confirmed that he knows of  Donat’s issue and said that he is not the only one to have met these officials where they asked him to submit the documents showing how he got the land.

“The officials from the office of the Ombudsman came and contacted Donat and others facing this issue where asked them to submit the documents showing how they got the land they own so that they could be checked,” Nkurunziza said.

Who make up the team in charge of land recovery process?

The National Advisory Council to fight against Corruption and Injustice has tipped a team in charge of Investigation on public properties illegally owned by individuals to investigate on how people got the land  they registered on their names.

The team comprises members from different parts of government institutions namely, the Office of the Ombudsman, Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Natural Resources Authority, Rwanda Housing Authority, the Ministry of Local Government and National Intelligence and Security Service.

Among over 5000 people thought to have illegally registered their land while it belongs to the government, 60% of them have been found guilty of registering the government-owned land on their names according to the team’s report issued to RNRA in  September 2016 and the rest have shown the proof of how they got it in a legal way.

The team walked around the country doing investigations on this issue through different techniques to get information needed from either people, government’s records or also information from lower government authorities of the villages and cells.

The government properties being investigated on to be recovered, when found illegally owned by people, include land, small forests, houses and pasturelands. This land could have been owned by people through legal distribution by the communal committee after the Genocide of 1994, lent or even owned illegally.

Why this wasn’t done before the land registration process kicked off.

The government has registered its land in the same process as its citizens, but it has been figured out that there are people who registered the government land, small forests, buildings  and pasturelands on their names, having spent a long time with it until they definitely consider it their own.

However, people didn’t give true information that they have the government’s land and decided to register it as their original properties

Asked about this issue late in September2015, Jean Pierre Nkurunziza, the spokesperson of the Office of the Ombudsman,  said  the report shows that some of the land and houses have been found in the government properties’ records; which means they have to be recovered.

“People have provided false information about their properties during the land registration where they willingly forgot that there is the land the government lent them after the Genocide of 1994 and now consider it as if it totally belongs to them. And we decided to investigate on it to find who have relating cases and we were lucky to find them and the process is still underway,” said Nkurunziza

What the government plans for this land

Jean Pierre Nkurunziza explained that there are many people who don’t have where to live.  Some of the land to be recovered will go under management of different government institutions like Police, MINADEF, Districts and Rwanda Housing Authority. The other shall be used to help homeless people to find where to live and apply other economic activities like agriculture so that they could survive.

The team in charge of Investigation on public properties illegally owned by individuals issued the report to the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA), who were in charge of land administration, which reveals the list of people who have been found guilty of registering the government-owned land on their names.

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@Fred Irakoze

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