Our Land Tenure system our Development Bane - A Rejoinder.

Sat, 26 Nov 2005 Source: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the rest of the East and South East Asian countries that made a dramatic turn around in the last century all underwent drastic ?Land Reforms? (with tacit support and food supplement from the United States). Geo-politics did played an important part in their transformations.

Unlike our Asian counterparts, the colonialists did not leave any tangible infrastructure development in place at independence apart from a single track rail road from the coast to the hinter land to ferry minerals. The reason sub-Saharan Africa was left in a precarious state at independence with her heavy reliance on cash crops for export was, sub-Saharan Africa was seen not as strategic and important continent but rather a continent geared to produce raw materials for the industries of the West, and thus did not figured much in the corridors of power in Washington DC, London and Paris.

Leaving out the historical and continent wide agrarian policies of the colonialists and their successor African elites, this writer would continue from where P.Y. Tsikata left off in his analysis regarding land administration and management and suggest some solutions that may enable our motherland to integrate agricultural development into the wider developmental agenda in Ghana.

As my brother and compatriot P.Y. Tsikata (Ghana web feature article : 20th November 2005) stated: ? Today Ghana is independent. Colonialism had come and gone. Most Ghanaian lands are vested in the authority of stools and skins, chiefs and kings, queens mothers and other important traditional institutions for its management, allocation, tenure and distribution?? The question, therefore, is has this way of land administration and management been any helpful to us as a nation? The answer clearly drifts away from the affirmative response. We have failed to manage what belongs to us and posterity properly for the benefit of our nation and its development. One would wonder if the traditional belief that the land belongs to the ancestors, and the kings, chiefs and traditional elders who are supposed to be the custodians of these lands for the ancestors, the present generation and even the unborn holds water any longer.

Kings, chiefs, queen mothers and traditional leaders who are supposedly the link between the ancestors, the present and posterity and rightly the custodians of our land holdings are seen as the moral touchstone of our society. They are, therefore, expected to act with the maximum decorum and without reproach, as the younger generation is expected to emulate their enviable characters?.

It is true that the behaviour of some of the custodians of our land is not something to write home about, and thus the issue of drastic land reforms must be seriously be looked at by the present regime. However this writer would urged caution in terms of how this is handled.

The current crop of our traditional rulers such as the Ashanti king, Otomfuo Nana Osei Tutu II , the Nkoranza king, Oketekyi Nana Agyeman Kodom, Akyem king, Nana Amotia Ofori Panin II and countless others understands that without drastic land reforms, our goal of achieving middle income status by 2020 would be impossible. They are now at the forefront of enticing investors to come and develop and invest in our rich agricultural land, thus creating jobs for our rural folks.

This writer is not here to defend the accusations made by his brother P.Y. Tsikata about the behaviour of some of our traditional rulers, but rather to ask countrymen to look at some of the positive developments being initiated by our Nananom.

Our Nananom understands that the way forward is through commercial farming. This can be achieved in various ways such as Dr Nkrumah?s once successful workers brigade concept and the co-operative concept etc. Going the way of Zimbabwe is not an option, where the government takes land from their rightful owners with impunity. To make land accessible to all, especially the low income, the government is taking the lead in encouraging builders (mainly the state building corporations such as Tema Development Corporation, SSNIT and others) to build affordable houses/apartments for workers. Not to confuse readers, Tsikata?s analysis which was mainly about acquiring lands for housing must be separated from acquiring land for commercial farming. Acquiring lands for housing is what has become problematic for the authorities due to multiple sales of lands by some unscrupulous traditional rulers and their followers. And as Tsikata explained in his analysis, due to the entrenched status of some of these so called traditional (laced with the issue of tribe) various governments shy away from reforming land (including eradicating massive corruption in land transactions).

Peter N. Jeffrey

Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

Columnist: Jeffrey, Peter Nee

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