Land registration under a dual land tenure system in Zambia

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Mandhu, Fatima
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Land, which includes the surface of the earth, the airspace above it and everything beneath the surface down to the centre of the earth, is the source material wealth. As human beings we live on the earth and obtain from it food, clothing, fuel, shelter, metal and precious stones. Even when we die our bodies or ashes are buried into earth. Therefore, the availability of land and its uses are a vital part of human existence. The formulating of land policy and the keeping of land records relating to title and ownership of land are of great concern to all governments. A sound national land tenure policy with an effective land registration system will provide the answers to economic growth of each country. In Zambia the current system of land legislation is based on antiquated English Law and traditional or religious concepts attached to land. Historical, political, and economic factors have contributed to the development of a highly urbanised Zambian population in favour of peri-urban settlements. Zambia is unique among African countries in that it has highly urbanised population, yet arguably an abundant supply of arable land that, for complex historical reasons, remains uncultivated and part of the traditional land system.There are good legal, economic, social and political reasons for the establishment of a modern, coherent, simplified and relevant land legislation and administration system. The current government in Zambia is calling for these land policy reforms. The enactment of the new Lands Act is one such move in the right direction. Before the enactment of the new legislation, land policies were based on the imported colonial laws. Most of the research carried out by academicians on the land laws and policy emphasised the dual land tenure system. Analysis of case law with regard to the complex English concepts and their impact on the customary land tenure system formed the main theme of these studies. This work now combines policy and procedure, therefore diverting from the traditional approach of policy analysis to the actual process of land Registration and the drafting of documents relating to transfer of land.Conveyancing is a difficult process little understood even by lawyers themselves. The need to simplify and streamjine conveyancing procedures through legislation as well as administrative changes, should be emphasised as the basis of future land reform policies. The dissertation is divided into six chapters. Chapter one outlines the general background to Zambian land policy and the application of complex English land concepts. The development and basis of the Land Registration system cannot be discussed without referring to the Torrens Systems, its introduction and spread to various countries. This chapter also includes the legislative history of the land tenure system and its dual nature.The second Chapter discusses the actual system of land registration, its legal history, its rationale and the need to have the right surveying policies with reference to accuracy of boundaries and acreage. It also gives an overview of pieces of legislation regulating the registration of rights and interests in land. Chapter three discusses the practical process of transferring and registering rights affecting land.Most of the case law points towards drafting problems faced by the Advocates. The need to simplify the age long art of conveying is clearly brought out.Chapter four surveys the Lands and Deeds Registry, the institution responsible for officially delivering titles and managing state land, its constraint, including lack of manpower,limited surveying capacity,inefficiency and the delay of proceeding thousands of applications, many of which have been pending for years. Decentralisation and the restructuring of the institution are suggested as a form of reforming the entire land allocation and titling systems.Chapter five focuses on title to and interests in land under the domain of customary law. A unified, simple system of land registration would provide solutions to most of the problems faced by the policy makers, the legislators and the institutions implementing the system of registration of land. The final chapter outlines the findings and makes recommendations.
Land reforms--Law and legistration -- Zambia