Livingstone — Southern African countries have been urged to ensure regional frameworks on land are carefully interrogated to guarantee access for all social classes. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Director for Southern Africa, Said Adejumobi noted.
He further noted that access, ownership, control and use of land have identity dimensions- of race, ethnic, gender, youth and communal nature, necessitating reforms in land governance in Southern Africa. "For example, whether under the colonial project or the post-colonial land tenure system, access to land by women remains limited and circumscribed in many countries". He made this remark at the opening ceremony of the expert meeting on the theme, "Land, Identity and Socio-Economic Transformation in Southern Africa" held in Livingstone.
He said accessing land by young people is also often a challenge while the poor do not easily have access to land. "I would urge us to go beyond the formalism of the law on land and examine facts, data and statistics on the land question and the socio-economic dynamics of its reality," he noted.
He further noted that making useful policy recommendations to our member-states is a key strategic objective of the meeting. In his words, "our end goal is to present policy options and recommendations to our member-states on how to successfully navigate this difficult and sensitive terrain of land governance and reforms in the region," he said.
Adejumobi further stressed that the key policy questions to be raised on the land reform and governance processes in Southern African countries among others include; how to reform the land governance and administration system to guarantee equity, fairness, access and social justice to all groups and communities? how national consensus can be negotiated on policy reforms on land? how will disadvantaged groups like women, youth and the poor can meaningfully access land? How do we ensure that agricultural production and food security are enhanced with the reform of the land governance system?
Meanwhile, African Union regional delegate to Southern Africa, SADC and COMESA secretariat, Leopold-AugusteNgomo called on the regional member states to guard against land exploitation. He noted that Southern Africa region is currently facing one of its major crisis in the post-apartheid era, that is land redistribution versus land economic exploitation. "land exploitation is not in phase with the sociology and cultural reality of the region. This situation is a source of tension, revolt, and legal or illegal expropriation, and loss of confidence and doubt on the future of living together in the same nation", he said.
Mr. Ngomo said the Southern African region is known as the land of rich mineral resources but also as the region with an agro-based economy whose land has come under siege due to economic activities.
Mr. Ngomo also reminded member states to adhere to agenda 2063 which resolved that rural women should have access to and control productive assets which include land.
"It is also in my duty to remind you of aspirations of an Africa whose development is people-driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children," he said.
The meeting is being attended by a broad spectrum of stakeholders including experts and academics working on land related issues, private sector, civil society organisations, member States (especially Ministries responsible for land and agriculture) and COMESA Secretariats, the African Union, Oxfam Zambia, World Bank, the United Nations agencies among others.