Districts have been faulted for poor implementation of the land sharing policy initiated in 1996, leading to endless land wrangles involving Genocide survivors.
This is according to the Special Justice Taskforce instituted by Prime Minister Pierre Damien Habumuremyi, this year, to analyse injustice faced by Genocide survivors.
The nine-member committee, comprised officials from various public institutions, was chaired by Deputy Ombudsman Bernadette Kanzayire.
It was set up to analyse injustice faced by Genocide survivors in relation to regaining their property.
The report, a copy of which The New Times has seen, says while executing the land sharing policy it was found out that land sharing was implemented differently in all districts.
“Some local authorities never implemented land sharing policy as required. They never put into consideration reserving land for child survivors of the Genocide,” the report says.
It also indicates that basing on the policy of land use for community settlements “imidugudu”, some local authorities allocated land belonging to Genocide survivors who either didn’t return home or were still minors to other people without providing compensation to the owners.
The report details land cases which have been handled in the various districts of the country.
Within a three month period starting January 11, it identified 1202 cases involving Genocide survivors’ property countrywide.
Ignorance of issue
More than 300 were resolved, while an estimated 800 issues are still pending and were recommended to the local authorities.
By the time land sharing policy was implemented, the population was not informed about the compensation they were required to provide consequently the value of that compensation today is higher, it said.
It was an obligation for all the beneficiaries of imidugudu policy to compensate land owners.
But people occupying land in settlements reportedly refused to remit compensation arguing that it was public land.
According to the report, there are cases where local authorities put public infrastructure on the land without providing fair compensation to the Genocide survivors.
The report adds that many Genocide survivors are still seeking justice to regain their properties occupied by illegitimately.
It cites a case of seven orphaned children of late Nyirumuringa in Kicukiro district among the many cases of land grabbing.
Family forced out
One of the children, who talked to this paper on condition of anonymity for fear of witch-hunt by the tenants on their land, their three-hectare piece of land in Nyakabanda Cell, Niboye Sector, was grabbed by 30 families who have since kept the plots of land, developed houses and used some part for animal husbandry.
The land grabbers allegedly include one of a prominent leader in the Kicukiro District.
A source said the affected family was forced to vacate this land in February 1994. The family settled in Kabeza, also in Kicukiro.
“The land belongs to Nyirumuringa family and their ancestors. I am a witness,” Mohamed Rwakazayire, the then leader of Nyakabanda Cell, whose family is just adjacent to the claimed land, said.
He said the land was divided up by city authorities to people who were relocating from other person’s houses.
Rwakazayire said it was in 1997 when around 30 people formed an association dubbed “Twiyubakire” and reclaimed the land for residential purposes and the Nyirumuringa family tried to halt it in vain.
“We tried to convince the meeting, which was called by local leaders, that the land belonged to us. When we realised no one was sympathising with us, we preferred to keep quiet,” said one of the children.
The task force recommended to the district commission to resolve the problem, but Nyirumuringa family says, the occupants gave this commission mislreating information since none of them acknowledged that they owe the family property.
Kanyarwanda and Ibuka, associations that promote the interests of Genocide survivors, have started assessment of the property issues for further advocacy.
Theoneste Murangira, the president of Kanyarwanda, said the associations are preparing different recommendations to submit to the Prime Minister’s office, the Ministry of Local Government and Office of the Ombudsman.
Contact email: jean.tabaro[at]newtimes.co.rw
Please allow me to comment on this issue of land that belonged to genocide survivor’s, given its intensity, central gov’t should intervene directly instead of just giving directives to local authorities.
– It is a complicated issued that needs technical land knowledge and financial means. The problem was caused by people acting in the name of the government and thus, a budget by central gov’t should be set a side to compensate all of the victims.
– Almost all the leaders in local gov’t are new in their posts, they have no knowledge on how this issue of land sharing was done-which to some extent was intention of the then sharing committees to redistributed lands that belonged to genocide survivors to make sure that they are not left with an portion of land in that village.
So, given the above title of this article, its as if the district is currently in the process of land sharing.
Remember also that the land organic land law and Ministerial decree determining modalities of land registration, all accounts Imidugudu land as a public land, then why do you think that people would pay for compensation on public land?
My view would be that the gov’t either pays for the compensation direct to the victims who lost their land or it should contact the people it allocated that land to pay for the land allocated to them and then the gov’t transfers back to the victims.
Am saying this cause i know its almost impossible and illogical to say that there will be restitution of that land to original owners given the developments and transactions already made over the said land.
11:35:47 Tuesday 04th, June 2013 Ngoma – Ngumbayingwe