The politics of land reforms in Malawi: The case of the Community Based Rural Land Development Programme (CBRLDP)



The implementation experiences of the CBRLDP demonstrate that the design, reform and implementation of pro-poor institutional arrangements are not merely a technical or managerial matter but a profoundly political exercise. This is underscored by the sheer determination of stakeholders engaged with the CBRLDP to shift the burden of the reforms elsewhere by taking recourse mainly to informal institutions within the framework of the evolving institutional arrangements governing land ownership and use. In addition, the question of citizenship based on the notion of autochthony is invoked by communities with excess land to the extent that new settlers have to contend with the constant threat that their land is open to contestation by the natives. The main argument of this paper therefore is that these experiences have greatly undermined the prospects of the CBRLDP to generate valuable lessons as a potential blueprint for sustainable land reform across the country and for further fine-tuning the draft land legislative framework. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.