June 12, 2008

Land disputes on the rise

Land tenure remains an area of conflict in Mozambique, with 148 separate land disputes recorded across the country in 2007 - which was a 44 per cent increase on the figure for 2006. According to Raimundo Cossa, the National Director of Land and Forests in the Ministry of Agriculture, 85 of the disputes were solved, but the other 63 are still under discussion.

Land is most at a premium around Maputo - 72 cases (just short of 50 per cent of the total) were recorded in Maputo province. At the other end of the scale there are large areas with almost no recorded disputes. The northern provinces of Nampula and Niassa had one known land dispute each in 2007. According to Cossa disputes arise because of increased demand for land for tourist purposes along the coast, failure to demarcate land concessions correctly, and inadequacies in consulting local communities. Under the current legislation, when an investor requests land, the communities are supposed to be consulted before the request is granted - but Cossa admitted that some of these consultations had not been inclusive enough.

Disputes also arose when the domestic animals belonging to investors invaded the neighbouring finds of peasant farmers. Cossa also admitted that lack of knowledge of the country's land legislation was a headache. "In order to solve the problem of demarcating land concessions badly, reconnaissance of the land to be demarcated should always involve consultations with the communities to show where the limits are, and avoid trespassing on other people's land", said Cossa. He added that in 2007, 1,185 provisional land title (covering about 757,800 hectares) and 331 definitive titles were issued. (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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