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Former IMF official calls for transparent land governance

US: Lack of transparency in land management reduces accountability by government authorities and institutions, and facilitates cheating because of lack of procedural clarity of affairs of land, said Festus Mogae, former executive director of IMF.

Highlighting the need of transparent land governance at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty held in Washington DC, Mogae, who is also the former President of Botswana, said transparent land governance starts with ensuring that land is a critical factor of production, is equitably distributed and effectively managed in a participatory way.

Transparent land governance requires certain important preconditions and principles in place accepted by all parties. It also must base itself on processes of equitable development and social justice, he added. At the operational level, transparent land governance requires registry systems producing real time data to monitor and control potential overconcentration of land in a few hands. The universal acceptance of democracy and rule of law forms the basis for governance in any country. These should form the basic principles of inclusion into transparent land governance in different countries.

Mogae cited the example when following the food crisis of 2008, a number of oil-producing countries and others like China and South Africa acquired large chunks of African farmland for food production. This should have seen as an injection of foreign capital into the agricultural sector in Africa. However, there were tensions owing to the total absence of information in some cases on the extent of land acquired and transferred to these countries/organisations. Even lawmakers were unaware of the details such as location of the land or the number and extent of people affected. As a result, some people saw this as re-colonisation of Africa.

Mogae strongly advocated that such acquisitions are allowed subject to appropriate safeguards, including the condition that they should teach local farmers. This is a clear case which demonstrates the absolute need for transparency, in the absence of which the best intentions may be doubted.

Source: Our Correspondent

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