CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES OF CUSTOMARY LAND ADMINISTRATION IN ZAMBIA
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Land is an integral part of Zambian identity, heritage, and rural livelihoods. Its importance is summed up by the expression ‘land is life’. Zambia’s dual land system, that of statutory and customary land, is at a critical juncture: greater tenure security is increasingly sought through leasehold tenure on state land, suggesting a departure from customary tenure where chiefs are to administer and hold land in trust for subjects. This customary land administration is characterised by widespread tenure insecurity due to ad hoc land administration and undocumented, or informal, land assignments. This administration occurs in a social, political and economic context that is increasingly in want of formal land registration and/or title to support investment. This thesis describes the roles of and relationships among the state, customary authorities, and rural landholders in the administration of customary land. It details who is involved and who is excluded in such processes and some of its strengths and weaknesses. Specifically, data were collected through 36 semi-structured interviews and 1 focus group. Respondents were selected through a combination of purposive and snowball sampling, from three different provinces in Zambia, however, primary focus is given to the Southern province. Interviewees included professionals working on land issues in the government, non-government and legal sectors, customary authorities, and rural landholders. By utilising data from a qualitative case study approach, this research analyses the changing role of the chief regarding land administration. If further queries what it means for chiefs to hold land in trust for subjects, and examines challenges associated with customary land administration in the contemporary era. This thesis argues that there is urgent need to formalise customary land administration to improve tenure security, decrease land disputes, and increase the transparency of land transactions.