Land rights and enclosures: implementing the Mozambican land law in practice | Land Portal
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Date of publication: 
November 2005
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Post-war Mozambique confronted the challenge of reforming land policy and legislation
with an innovative land law that protects customary rights while promoting investment
and development. Most rural households have customarily acquired land rights, now
legally equivalent to an official State land use right. When necessary, they can be proven
by analysing local land management and production systems, resulting in large areas
being registered in the name of ‘local communities’. With rights recognised and recorded, communities can then negotiate with investors and the State and secure agreements to promote local development and reduce poverty. This paper presents recent information on Land Law implementation, which is partially successful, but with public land agencies still neglecting community aspects. A focus on fast tracking private sector land use applications is resulting in land concentration that couild fuel future conflicts over resource access and use. The progressive mechanism of the community consultation is being applied, but in a way that does not bring real local benefits - instead it gives a veneer of respectability to what is more like a European style enclosure movement, aimed to rationalise land use and place resources in the hands of a class that sees itself as more capable and better able to use national resources than the peasant farmers whose rights are legally recognised but still unprotected in practice. The mid-1990s consensus on land policy is still in place, but under serious pressure to move towards a market in land rights. An historic opportunity is in danger of being lost – the chance to use the Land Law to implement rural transformation with a controlled enclosure process that brings social benefits and generates an equitable and sustainable outcome for all those involved.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Tanner, Christopher

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