Angola is a country that has undergone transformation in the recent past. The country has seen development in various sectors. Angola’s government has focused on addressing critical issues that have resulted to years of conflicts such as land tenure. Land is a variable resource in Angola especially because the rural population depends on it for long-term and short-term sustainability (Ayivor, 2001). Considering Angola’s population the land is enough for each citizen. However, Angola like many African countries underwent a period of colonialism and post-independence. As a result, the country land problems began after colonialism when land had to be given back to the citizens. As such, after independence access to land became limited. This resulted in unequal distribution of land lending to social inequity. Moreover, the rights of individual were not met.
Land tenure refers to the land laws systems, they system emphasis that land is owned by individuals. Such individuals hold the land and can carry out any transaction with it. In developing countries land grabbing is common especially by wealthy and large multinational companies. Customary land is administered in relation to the customs followed by a community (Kreike, 2004). Statutory tenure was introduced by the Portuguese settlers. The indigenous people were prone to manipulation by either the government or the rich. During the colonial period the Portuguese settlers allocated themselves the best lands in terms of fertility. The settlers were able to produce commercial crops while the rural people only managed to have as small surplus that they would sell.
After the colonial period ended, the Angola’s government was able to confiscate the abandoned land. The government did not have the necessary resources to run the farms. As a result, the government allocated the land to various individuals who used it for subsistent farming. The foreigners could only be allocated land through lease agreements. This resulted after the Portuguese settlers wanted to repose the land they had initially allocated themselves through a statutory tenure. The land laws (1995) in Angola indicate that land is owned by the state and only the government can privatize land. This act was prone to manipulation by the powerful people especially the politicians.
In Angola, the land law 21C/92 governs access to land. It aims to protect the right of access and ownership of land by local communities. The law provides local residents with land that will be used for subsistence farming and also a place in which they can build homes. However, the law does not recognize the purpose of having commercial activities in rural areas. As such, the law does not provide land for carrying out commercial businesses in the rural areas. Angola has various internally displaced groups due to years of conflict. The civil war ended in the year 2002. After the civil war, the countries government undertook measures that would ensure equitable land distribution. This was addressed through the passing of the land Act of 2004. The passing of this Act was a milestone in ensuring that land ownership is normalized in the country. However, various challenges still exist even after passing the land laws (Anseeuw, 2010).
The land reforms were carried out after two years of discussions on land laws. The law included the steps that would be used convert customary land rights into legal land rights. Land conflict resulted from the fact that there were no clear land rights. Consequently, clear land rights were necessary to enable the land reforms to be implemented smoothly. Access to land was also addressed by the land laws. This was critical for the purposes of economic recovery. The countries agricultural sector employs over two thirds of the working population. During the colonial period unlawful evictions were common. As such, the land Act protected the people from these kinds of injustices.
There are various challenges facing the implementation of land reforms. First, the Angola’s government has been accused of lack of accountability and insufficiently implementing the reforms. The numbers of displaced persons in Angola were estimated at 4.12 million. This entire population needed to be resettled back into their homes or in any other available land. As a result, this created more problems for the government because some people had relocated to those areas where legal owners had been misplaced. Furthermore, prior to the civil war and independence there were those people who had been misplaced by the colonialists.
Another challenge that faced the implementation of the land reforms was land grabbing. Land grabbing was an act of the rich, who were in government or had connections. They would identify the huge fertile land especially used by pastoralists and through legal means and their connections, acquire the land. In addition, large multinational companies would persuade the Angola’s government to allocate them land. The contracts would aim at giving assistance to the government. Foreign government would also persuade the government to allocate land to multinationals. Angola has a system in which land is owned through custom. As a result, the people of Angola do not have legal documents that would prove that they own land. The government can take advantage of the lack of legal ownership of the land. An example of such actions involves the forced evictions in the city of Luanda.
The land Act (2004) has addressed major issues that are necessary for land reforms to take place in Angola. However, some issues such as land grabbing, customary land unresolved issue and unequal distribution of land still exists.