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30.11.2007 General News

Blame Chiefs for land disputes, not Govt

By The Statesman

Chiefs have been cited as the principal cause of land disputes in the country and not the government. This is because the traditional rulers, described as 'warlords' in land matters, who own eighty percent of the land often times indulge in indiscriminate distribution and sale of the lands.

Franklin Cudjoe, CEO of IMANI, disclosed this when he contributed to a panel discussion organised by the Citizens Network for Democracy and Economic Development under the theme, "The Market and the State; The Politics of Property Rights and Economic Exclusion.”

“It is a lie to say that government is the problem of land administration, it is the chiefs and if we want to get things done properly we have to deal with them and also bring them in line,” he said.

He also identified the delay in the procedure of land registration as a disincentive to investment.

Mr Cudjoe, however, acknowledged that political interference also hinders the smooth land administration in the country.

Again, he said the country's constitution is inconsistent in relation to land ownership especially in the mining communities and suggested the amendment to restore property rights to the citizenry.

He admonished the government to be careful of the people it employs as managers and employees of the Land Administration Project because some of them frustrate the successful implementation of the project.

According to him, the way forward is for the government to put in place a comprehensive land data system. “I am for the individual being given ownership of the land and we should be able to do this by technology,” he stressed.

Contributing, Nana Fredua Ofori-Atta was not happy that chiefs in the country were being cited as trouble makers when it comes to land allocation and said as custodians of land, they have protected their God-given resources over the years.

He argued that without chief's ownership and control of the land and perhaps distributing and allocating it to the people, the situation today could have been more chaotic.

He said there was never a time in the country's history when traditional rulers, the government and stakeholders have met to deliberate on the way forward in the proper land usage and administration.

Kwadwo Afari, CEO of the CNDED, noted that the basic pillars of every society are economic freedom of the free market, political freedom of democracy and the liberty of property rights but pointed out that unfortunately Ghana has accepted the freedom of democracy.

According to him, his NGO believes that issues that affect the nation and its citizens ought to be discussed without any fear of intimidation.

Mr Afari, former NPP PRO, pointed out some contradictions in the 1992 Constitution with regard to property rights and land ownership which need amendment.

Nii Moi Thompson, an Economist, who chaired the discussion, said the country is in a transitional period and the regulatory frame work of government institutions and organisation must be made to work effectively and efficiently to promote the private sector.

By Nana Obeng-Danquah