Dar es Salaam. Chadema’s presidential candidate Tundu Lissu yesterday pledged to make major reforms on land ownership if his party is elected in the October 28 General Election to form the government.
He said there were bigwigs in government and their families hoarding thousands of hectares of land that have been left idle while residents in the regions were facing acute land shortages to support their livelihoods.
Addressing a public rally in Ifakara, Kilombero District, which was live broadcast via online channels, Mr Lissu said the move has led to endless disputes between farmers and herders. “My promise to Morogoro residents is that after October 28, the new Chadema government will nationalize all the idle land owned by business people and bigwigs in the previous governments,” he said.
Mr Lissu, who doubles as Chadema vice chairman (Mainland), said land reforms will be extended to other regions where some people have abused their offices and powers to own thousands of hectares of land at the expense of farmers and herders.
According to him, the move will not only provide farmers with enough land for cultivation, but also make enough grazing land available to livestock keepers.
He said if Chadema wins the October 28 elections, he will spearhead restoration of the damaged international relations that according to him, have severely affected prices of crops produced by farmers in the region.
“Kenyans are major customers of rice produced in the region. However, Tanzania’s diplomatic relations with Kenya isn’t stable as it used to be, hence, affecting the price of rice produced by Morogoro farmers,” he said.
The former Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) president said his government will fix the country’s relations with Tanzania neighbours and the rest of the world, noting that Tanzania needed the world more than the way the world needed Tanzania.
Speaking on disqualification of opposition candidates, Mr Lissu said Morogoro was leading in the number of disqualified parliamentarian and councillorship candidates than any other region in the country.
He said only three parliamentary candidates have been retained out of 11 fielded by the party and that only 97 councillorship candidates have been nominated out of 213 fielded in the 214 wards in the region.
According to him, eight candidates for parliamentarians and 107 councillorship candidates have been disqualified arbitrarily during the nomination process.
“It isn’t that we didn’t have candidates for parliamentary and councillorship posts, but there are some people who fear defeat had they allowed our candidates to participate,” he said.
Nationally, he said 55 parliamentary candidates have been disqualified from 264 constituencies, 214 located in Tanzania Mainland as well as 1,025 out of 3,755 candidates fielded in 3,955 wards have been eliminated.
“After closely following the trend, we have found out that there were bigwigs who wouldn’t like land ownership concerns to be addressed, that is why they fear our candidates,” he told the rally. He said the idle land has worsened the lives of sugarcane growers and rice farmers as most ordinary citizens cannot farm along the Kilombero basin and fish on the river.
He said parliamentary candidates for the Kilombero Constituency where Chadema took leadership after the 2015 polls as well as Ifakara town council have been disqualified.
The ex-Singida East and opposition whip in Parliament said parliamentary candidate for Mlimba Constituency Suzan Kiwanga has also been ‘unfairly’ eliminated. “I was disappointed to sell councillorship candidates following her disqualification.”