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Land registration guidelines in the offing

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Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (Cepa) and its cooperating partners are in a drive to formulate draft guidelines for customary land titling and registration.

Addressing delegates to a stakeholder validation workshop discussing the guidelines in Mponela, Dowa, last Thursday, Cepa’s Executive Director, William Chadza, said the guidelines are a timely intervention because they would provide guidance on how provisions in the new Land Act can be implemented.

“As you can see, we have traditional authorities, academia, Ministry of Lands officials, Members of Parliament and others so that we can get some consensus on appropriate guidelines in implementing the new Land Act, especially where customary estates are concerned,” he said.

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He said the guidelines for inclusive customary land governance provide principles and procedures for establishing institutions of customary land governance, the principles, practices and procedures for titling and registration of customary estates as well as the establishment of procedures for dispute resolution and management of conflicts pertaining to customary land governance.

“But we are also collaborating with the Ministry of Lands and the Department of Surveys to get guidance on how we can do the titling itself,” he said.

He added that the public has to be encouraged to test the new related laws which have got a lot of advantages than has been the case until now.

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“I think we could promote security of tenure in terms of customary land. We also hope that the new institutions that are suggested in the new Land Act like the customary land committees and the tribunals will bring a very good blend in terms of land administration by traditional authorities,” he said.

Some 30 chiefs from Rumphi District recently petitioned Parliament to repeal the new Customary Land Act which was passed in 2016 arguing that it would bring friction between traditional leaders and their subjects.

“We have to appreciate their point of view. This is a new act and it comes with a lot of changes like the customary land committees and tribunals offering alternative ways in which you can deal with land administration which for a long time has been done by traditional leaders. It should be expected that as we get more understanding and those processes are put to test, those matters will be resolved,” he said.

Chief Economist in the Ministry of Lands, James Namfuko, said the drafting of the new guidelines mark a milestone in the land reform programme.

“As a country, we need these guidelines. We may not be ready to implement this pilot project but it is a step in the right direction. As a ministry, we really need to develop subsidiary legislation to supplement and conform to new land related laws,” he said.

Cepa is currently implementing a “Strengthening Land- Governance System for Smallholder farmers in Malawi” as a pilot project in partnership with Oxfam and LandNet in Kasungu (Senior Chief Lukwa), Mzimba (T/A Mpherembe) and Phalombe (Senior Chief Nazombe) districts.

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