TANZANIA is undoubtedly a haven of peace in a region where some countries are rocked by pockets of violence and political disturbances.
But, though the country has been a role model through enjoying political stability from independence, there has been a perennial problem of land conflicts.
Land conflicts between livestock keepers and farmers in some notorious parts of the country do not only turn nasty, but also leads to destruction of property and sometimes deaths. These conflicts normally turn violent and in the process crops, animals and houses are destroyed.
Fukayosi Village in Bagamoyo District is one of the areas affected by this social anomaly. And, recently, livestock keepers ran amok in the village assaulting villagers in yet another land conflict.
It is against this background that President John Magufuli had to make a stopover (from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam) at the village to talk to villagers who had gathered at ward offices holding placards.
Dr Magufuli directed the Bagamoyo District Commissioner (DC), Majid Mwanga, to make sure the culprits are arrested and brought before the law. He also ordered the DC to institute measures that will end the disputes between farmers and pastoralists, once and for all.
The order by President Magufuli is not only timely, but is important in the government bid to end such clashes. In December, last year, a farmer was seriously injured at Mikumi in conflicts that were sparked by pastoralists’ move to graze their cattle in maize and bean fields in the area.
With these clashes turning fatal in some areas, urgent measures need to be taken to end this social anomaly that tarnishes the image of the country.
This directive to find a solution should not only be directed to the Bagamoyo DC alone, but all government and local government leaders in conflict prone areas. Local government leaders should be in the forefront in solving such problems as they are on the ground.
Gone are the days when they should wait for national leaders to visit the area and solve the problem. With them being part of those societies and communities, they are in a better position to tackle them.
The Minister for Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Mr William Lukuvi, revealed that there is a new policy meant to curb such problems by having strict conditions on land use, including specifying the number of livestock to be kept in an area.
This is good news and will go a long way in solving this problem, but more still needs to be done to solve this issue.
There is need for the general public to play a central role in ending such conflicts. Awareness campaigns and clear demarcation of land between pastoralists and farmers is an important step in bringing normalcy. It is important, therefore, that everyone plays his or her role in order to end clashes and promote peace.