National, News

Land belongs to the community–Nene argues

By Gladys Fred Kole


Central Equatoria State deputy governor has expressed a contrary view on land ownership in the country.

Mrs. Sarah Nene said that “land belongs to the community” and the government only regulates its use.

The argument of the deputy governor contradicts what is stipulated in the National Council of Ministers in a recent passed Land Act Amendment Bill 2023.

According to the Act “land belongs to the people of South Sudan and its use is regulated by the government.”

Nene expressed her sentiment yesterday during the opening of a two-day conference to strengthen the local governance system in Central Equatoria State.

“The land belongs to the community, and the government only organizes the land because, to the best of my knowledge, we inherit the land from the community; the community will offer it to the government, and we arrange it properly,” Nene argued.

The Deputy Governor explained that the local government act makes it very clear that Central Equatoria can’t go to Lake State, Jonglei, or any other state to put a table and govern the people there.

“CES paramount chiefs, commissioners, and everybody attending this conference should know well the local government act so that no one can cross-cut issues,” she urged the workshop participants. Curtain

Land wrangles

Meanwhile, the deputy governor also pointed out that there’s been an increase in cases of land grabbing in Juba County and the city, day and night.

She said the land grabbers are not aiming to settle on these lands, but they are grabbing them for business purposes.

“If they want to stay, the land is big for us; even all of us can’t have it for ourselves; there will be balance for agriculture and other activities. But they (land grabbers) just want to get money out of it.” Nene lamented.

“Even our own people get the land from those grabbers,” she added.

She noted that some people group themselves, put up a table, and give out land.

“Even some chiefs put their tables and their local codes in an area that is not their own,” she alleged.

Nene also blames those who are getting the land from the land grabbers, saying they don’t even ask who the person distributing the land is.

“Someone is not from Juba, not a Bari, and you want to get the land from him. Who is he?” Nena questioned.

The clause “Land belongs to the people of South Sudan” has been a source of contention in discussions across several states in the country.

In a recent objection, stakeholders in Eastern Equatoria State expressed dissatisfaction over the same clause in the proposed land policy.

Participants, who attended a consultative workshop on the Land Policy, suggested that the phrase be replaced with “land belongs to the community.”

However, last month, the Council of Ministers passed the National Land Act amendment bill, which provides a framework to address problems and constraints to ensure equity in land allocation.

The policy aims to provide principles, structures, and processes for land ownership, control, uses, and sustainable management.

Government spokesperson Michael Makuei told journalists after the cabinet meeting that the policy development process was lengthy due to the numerous adjustments required.

According to the constitution, the land is owned by the people of South Sudan, not by the communities of South Sudan, and the government shall regulate its usage.

Makuei said the policy will help citizens understand land ownership and management.

After thorough deliberation, the cabinet directed the national minister of land to table the policy before parliament for consideration.

The two-day conference is organized by the CES government with support from JICA and GIZ.

The conference, which brought together all key players in community reconstruction and development from all corners of CES and Juba City Council, will provide a valuable platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing, and collective action.

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