MOZAMBIQUE, NEOLIBERAL LAND REFORM, AND THE LIMPOPO NATIONAL PARK*

Authors


  • *

    I thank Joshua Barkan, Bruce Braun, Megan Casey, and two anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier drafts of this article. The Fulbright Foundation provided funding for this project, as did the University of Minnesota's Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change and Department of Geography.

  • 3. Although given that Helvetas and the awf are not private investors and are thus not concerned with (personal) financial gain, it is reasonable to question how generalizable or representative such applications of the land law are. But, presently, most land delimitations in Mozambique are in fact being carried out by ngos that, like Helvetas and the awf, often take an advocacy position. Moreover, the awf is working hand in hand with private investors on the Cubo project.

  • 4. In effect, this nationalization of land amounts to a form of privatization. Whereas the semi-privatization of land outside the park is one in which the state guarantees individuals/communities' rights to land, the nationalization-as-privatization of land inside the park is one in which the state denies such rights and does so in the name of promoting investment and national development.

  • 5. This, however, could change if communities are not made aware of their rights or if the legal system does not protect such rights when they are challenged.

  • 6. What the land law does in communities like Canhane and Cubo is render such communities legible to the state both geographically (for example, as their land enters the cadastre) and legally as they become (land) rights-holding entities (compare Tornimbeni 2007). As communities and their land rights are legible to the state only via such legislation, in areas where state power is seemingly devolved, such power is to some extent consolidated, as it forces communities to “play the land-rights game” by the rules set out by the state.

  • 7. Parks in Africa (and elsewhere) have long been established via the nationalization of land and the related dispossession of communities that found themselves inside or simply too near park borders (Neumann 1998; Ramutsindela 2004). What I have illustrated is that such nationalization of land and dispossession in the lnp fits tightly within larger neoliberal transformations. To the extent that parks are built to enable decentralized, community-based development projects nearby and promote the accumulation and flow of capital by means of private investment (compare Wolmer 2003; Ramutsindela 2004), they too are neoliberal state spaces, a label the lnp alone does not merit.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Central to its transformation from a state-centered to a neoliberal, free-market economy, in 1997 the Mozambican state passed a radical new land law that guarantees the rights of individuals and communities to occupy land and transfer land-use titles, a move seen as necessary for attracting private investment. By comparing how the land law has been applied to the Limpopo National Park and several adjacent villages, I show how it has led to geographically uneven land reform. More specifically, outside the park, the law has enabled the semiprivatization of community lands, in theory protecting community land rights. However, the application of the law within the park has resulted in the further nationalization of this space, which is leading to land dispossession for communities within the park's borders. I thus show how neoliberal land reform is giving rise to a seemingly contradictory type of “neoliberal state space.”

Ancillary