This study explores Lesotho’s land tenure reforms, in particular the 2010 Land Act, in relation to its implications on land access and livelihoods of the poor, who currently hold rights to land that is subject to reform. Using key literature, key informants and a case study, it offers a distinctive perception on Lesotho’s land governance challenges. It also provides an exceptional insight into the country’s over-dependency on aid that ultimately influences policy agenda.
The strategic power and influence by the donor community and foreign investors correlated with their access to and predominance of land, and relied on a reciprocally advantageous alliance with the government. It is through this alliance that the country experienced subtle land grabs, which the study elaborates thoroughly in subsequent chapters. The rationale behind reforms was that customary landholding lacked security of tenure and was an economic detriment. The modern tenure that donors and foreign investors are advocating for have a potential to leave the indigenous landless. These realities came to light when the study discovered that people do not only need land for agriculture, but for social, political and spiritual aspects of their lives.
While land is central to people’s lives, the government accepted the terms of aid that consequently lead to the enactment of a policy that has elements of dispossession. This study does not question the significance of economic development through maximum utilization of land and other natural resources. Nonetheless, there is a need to rethink land tenure reforms that are not country lead as there is a misalignment between policy and the needs of the poor rural communities. The implementation of the reforms may have negative implications for the marginalised. The policy is more likely to benefit foreign investors over local people.
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2019.