Whatever it takes: strategies by communal land right-holders in Zimbabwe for enhancing tenure security
This article looks at ways in which communal area right-holders in Zimbabwe attempt to add security to their land rights when faced with altered circumstances. Apart from quasi-legal means such as ad hoc diagrams, which were beyond the scope of this article, two principal strands were found by which land right security is bolstered. First, investment in interpersonal ties (both with the living and the dead), and second, ceremonies for forging and maintaining links with land. For both, it was found that traditional practices have been bent and adapted pragmatically to suit contemporary contexts. Increased mobility and remoteness from rural homes has also given rise to a degree of abstraction (for example, the symbolic use in urban settings of soil or grain brought from communal areas). Where both custom and formal law co-exist pluralistically, custom has proved the more flexible of the two and, unless demonstrably better security is offered, it seems likely that custom will continue to be invoked and modified to provide security for new circumstances.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Rights Statement: DOI: https://10.1017/S0001972012000769
Keywords: Communal tenure; Land tenure; Land rights; Zimbabwe
Research Type: Journal Article