The Role of Traditional Leader in Land Conflict Resolution in Soroti District Case Study: Gweri Sub-County
Author: ADONG DAVID
Supervisor: Ika Lino
In Uganda, the phenomenon of Land- related conflicts seem to be frequent. As such, Traditional Leaders have a role to understand and make use of community cultural loyalty to drive for Land conflict resolution in the communities of their jurisdiction. The aim of this research was to examine the role of traditional leaders in Land conflict resolution processes with a focus on Soroti District Gweri Sub-county. The researcher utilized theories of conflict so as to have an in-depth understanding of conflict and presented the mechanisms of conflict resolution as a remedy of solving land conflicts. This research sought to: investigate the cause of Land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county; identify the role of Traditional Leaders in mediation of land conflict in Gweri Sub-county; to find out other measures traditional leader might be using to resolve land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county; and examine the challenges Traditional Leaders face in mediating land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county.
Data for this study was obtained from primary and secondary sources. The primary data were contained in duly filled questionnaires, interviews and Focus group discussions while the secondary data were in notes form. Guided by the objectives and premises of the study, the raw data was arranged according to the major themes.
The study established that Gweri Sub-County has persistently experienced instances of land conflicts for a long time. The main causes of Land conflicts in this Sub-county include: Population growth; Corruption; Unclear boundaries and Gender disparities. The study‟s findings indicate that Traditional leaders have been involved in mediation of Land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county. The findings revealed that Traditional leaders used mediation and influenced parties to go into negotiation as a mechanism of resolving land conflicts in Gweri sub-county. Traditional leaders‟ role in negotiation is only to encourage conflicting parties to negotiate in the event that, the two conflicting parties can dialogue to resolve their land grievances. The study also revealed that during the mediation the traditional leaders were involved in; identification and clearing of boundaries, educating local people in customary land laws, and fostering reconciliation among conflicting parties. The study also found that Traditional leaders stood as witnesses in Judicial courts as a measure to facilitate resolution of land conflicts and also their mediation reports were referred to in court to inform decisions of the court on a given case.
Traditional leaders while undertaking mediation of land conflicts are faced with challenges of; their (Traditional Leaders) decisions not being legally binding, the authority of the customary systems of dispute resolution has weakened and that there is a notable inconsistency between the formal and the customary. The compromise, nullity, void and the negation of these decisions explain why there is persistence of land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county despite presence and effort of Traditional leaders on Land conflict resolution. The study draws conclusions that; land resource is an opportunity if it is properly managed and used but also is a source of conflict in Gweri Sub-County. Whereas Mediation is the most common approach Traditional leaders used to resolve land conflicts in Uganda as mandated by the Land Act 1998.
Conclusively, unclear boundaries, Population growth, Corruption, Gender disparities and weak local leadership are the major causes of land conflict in Gweri Sub-county and that the key role that the Traditional Leaders seem to be playing significantly during mediation is clear identification of boundaries. However, there seem to be reoccurrence of Land conflicts in Gweri Sub-county because of inadequate effort and information on customary land laws and transient solutions given during mediation without clear strategies undertaken by Traditional leaders to foster reconciliation among the conflicting parties.