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Independent review of land issues - Volume II, Number 1 (Southern Africa)

Shaun Williams

December 2005

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In March 2003 a small group of land experts met in Pretoria, South Africa, to discuss ways out of what they termed the ‘impasse’ on land reform affecting Southern and Eastern Africa. A major recommendation of the group was the initiation of an electronic review which would provide news of current land reform developments in the region. The first volume of that review comprised two papers, one on Southern Africa, which was published in August 2004,1 followed by a second focusing on Eastern Africa.2 As in the first number of the first volume, ‘Southern Africa’ as used here includes Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe - each country is discussed below in ascending alphabetic order.

The first volume of the review provided baseline information on the evolution of land policy and land reform implementation in each country in the two sub-regions. This second volume, and those that will follow, hopefully annually, are intended to update and build on that seminal volume. The series of snapshots of each country captured by successive issues should be useful for planners, programme designers, advocates, practitioners and citizens engaged in land reform anywhere, but especially in Africa, to identify their own possibilities and potentials.

The objective of publishing this series of reviews is to determine whether the impasse relating to land reform in both sub regions, which was originally diagnosed by these experts in 2003, persists, or, alternatively, if and in what facet of this complex process some dynamism or engagement can be detected.

The principle reference materials for this volume have been peer reviewed books and journal articles, which were published after the previous newsletter was distributed. Where resources of this quality were unavailable, ‘grey paper’ was used, which had been either generously shared by collaborators or was trawled from the internet by the author. Where necessary, media reports were drawn on as sources of last resort. Unless confidentially was requested, sources have been assiduously attributed.

As in the first volume, the level of detail in these second volumes’ issues varies from one country to the other, partly as a result of methodological limitations; partly because there has been much more activity in some countries than in others. Unfortunately, reporting thoroughly on the undoubted inter-country connectivity of land reform processes within each sub-region has so far been beyond the scope of this project.

Any comments on the usefulness of this review, and of ways in which it might be improved, would be much appreciated. Please contact Shaun Williams, who is the principal writer of this volume (), who, while taking full responsibility for the final version, gratefully acknowledges the editorial guidance provided by Kaori Izumi, Robin Palmer and Martin Adams. Needless to say, land rights every where will always be highly contentious!

  1. This issue can be downloaded from []

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