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Accepted Paper:

Access to Land in Mozambique FRELIMO's Legal Frameworks during the Socialist and Democratic Phases  


Silvia Balzan (University of Basel)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the development of legal frameworks that regulate dispossession, rights of access to land, and their consequences on local communities, in two different political moments of FRELIMO, the former Marxist and today democratic ruling party of post-independence Mozambique.

Paper long abstract:

The paper sheds light on two different moments in the political life of post-independence Mozambique after the Portuguese colonialism lasted until 1975. Precisely it analysis the evolution of the political party FRELIMO from its socialist one-party phase to the following multi-party system from the '90s onward.

The paper focus on one aspect of FRELIMO's policy: the development of legal frameworks that regulate dispossession, rights of access and use to land, and their socio-economical and anthropological effects on local communities.

During the Portuguese colony, the land was occupied through various types of titles. Following the en masse departure of colonizers, the land was nationalized by FRELIMO in 1975. The population was organized into communal villages and cooperatives, retaining their right to use land.

Successively FRELIMO grew in favor of the neoliberalist market. Through policy as the 1997 Land Law, the State owns all land and grants communities use rights (DUAT). The law also enables investors to acquire 50-years renewable rights, which they negotiate with community consultations, in many cases, flawed and leading to dispossession.

These deals are filtered by local elites, which exercise control over Mozambican land. It is not simply the global capital that acts upon a developing country.

The paper aims to expand on the progressive erosion of socialism and the politics of privatization of land in Mozambique. These policies accompany a reorganization of territorial units that, in turn, leads to a change of power structure in the Mozambican society previously organized by the customary system.

Panel B08
Anthropology and Geography in Postsocialism