Land, Rights, and Tenure Insecurity on Customary Land in Zambia: Protecting “Thyselves”

Land, Rights, and Tenure Insecurity on Customary Land in Zambia: Protecting “Thyselves”

Ephraim Kabunda Munshifwa (Copperbelt University, Zambia), Niraj Jain (Copperbelt University, Zambia), Roy Alexander Chileshe (Copperbelt University, Zambia) and Anthony Mushinge (Copperbelt University, Zambia)
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3729-9.ch007
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Land is a key asset in the lives of village communities in Zambia. It is thus at the centre of their livelihood strategies as it provides social, economic, and financial benefits to these communities. The paradox though is that despite acknowledging its importance in the lives of village communities, tenure on this land is poorly protected by the state resulting in high insecurity for its occupants. In many instances, there are no clear regulations on its use and alienation while traditional authorities are also ill-equipped for the task of administering this land. The question then that emerges is: In this perceived absence of state protection, how are village communities protecting themselves from threats of dispossession by foreign investors, urban elites, and the state's own actions? This study found that village communities are using various means to protect themselves, including issuance of local land holding certificates.
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Sources Of Insecurity On Customary Tenure In Zambia

In order to appreciate the need for increased tenure insecurity on customary land in Zambia, it is important to step back and examine threats to this form of land holding. Literature revealed a number of factors as being responsible for insecurity on customary tenure; however, this chapter isolates four such sources due to their scale and impact, namely large-scale agricultural development, large-scale mining projects, state farm block programmes and multi-facility economic zones. Each of these is discussed in the sections which follow.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Large-Scale Agriculture: Agricultural activities involving the acquisition of large tracks of land for commercial agriculture; often linked to foreign ownership.

Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM): Land administration systems emphasising traditional and social processes and less on formal titling, hence facilitating documentation of de-facto rights.

Customary Tenure: Conditions under which land and property is held based on local norms and culture.

Tenure Insecurity: Threat of dispossession.

Multi-Facility Economic Zone: Land reserved, often through a legal instrument, for the development of an industrial park.

Codification of Rights: Systematic conversion of customary to formal legal rights such as property titles.

Tenure: Conditions under which land and property are held.

Land Rights: Relationship amongst humans on the use of land; can be based on legal statute or traditional norms and culture.

Land Administration Domain Model (LADM): Land administration systems based on the State formulating policy and implementing, with emphasis on cadastral surveying and title registration.

Land: Area of land comprising physical space on which various rights are assigned.

Local Land Holding Certificate: Document issued by traditional authorities granting land rights based on social norms and culture; hence providing de-facto property right.

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