President Paul Kagame has given a definite answer to the endless issue of land sharing and resettlement in Rwanda consequently dissolving cases that have kept emerging for the last 24 years.
Land management in Rwanda required tough decisions given Rwandan historical context. In 1994, a genocidal government massacred its people in the Genocide against Tutsi-more than a million Tutsi perished in the tragedy.
Upon the liberation of Rwanda in July 1994, Rwandan refugees who had fled the country since 1959 repatriated.
The Rwandan prevailing land-related laws provided that repatriating Rwandans would be resettled and may not necessarily recover the land they used to have before fleeing the country.
Several returning Rwandans were resettled along Gishwati forest in Western Province, Nyagatare in the Eastern Province and other parts of the country.
Government, at that time decided to find a political solution which was to share the land amongst Rwandans. Part of the General land sharing exercise was conducted by President Paul Kagame himself in Nyagatare in 2008.
However, the issue seems to be recurrent with people asking to repossess the land that is legally registered to other owners in accordance with the current laws.
During the launch of local government retreat on Wednesday, a local leader from Nyagatare district, a part of the country where land sharing issues are recurrent stood up to seek guidance on how they can solve the problem.
President Paul Kagame was shocked that there are people who want to reverse the issue that was settled years back.
“This was a political issue and was solved politically; it is not a problem to be solved in a court of law,” Kagame said.
“This must stop because if you want to keep it going, then you will reverse everything we have been doing.”
Kagame requested Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye to shade more light on the matter. In his response, the Minister said that the recent judicial retreat reiterated that position of the country about the land policy.
“From Arusha provisions and other laws onward, it is provided that people who fled in 1959, if they come back they will get resettled. We had issues in Nyaruguru, in the West, and East but we have maintained the initial position,” Busingye said.
President Kagame farther warned that if people start taking for granted the way this problem was solved, it means they will go ahead and undermine even other important decisions.
“If there was a land that belonged to one person and is now hosting a hundred families, do you really want to reverse that, where do you want to take those people?” Kagame asked tasking the Minister of Justice to end the matter once and for all.