Large-Scale Land Investments and Customary Tenure: A Comparative Legal Study of Tanzania and Zambia

Authors Margherita Baldarelli

ISSN: 2026-8556
Affiliations: PhD Candidate, School of International Studies, University of Trento (Italy)
Source: SADC Law Journal, The, 2014/15, p. 26 – 44


This paper analyses the norms that regulate the allocation of land to investors in Zambia and Tanzania, two members of the Southern African Development Community that in the last decade witnessed a significant increase in the flow of agricultural investments. The aim of this work is to compare the process through which land is allocated to investors by focusing on the alienation from the customary domain, in order to identify similarities and differences between the two countries. The paper argues that, notwithstanding the differences in the statutory framework of Tanzania and Zambia, the shift away from customary rights poses similar challenges to both countries. The reconciliation of development policies with local use rights ought to be addressed, especially when the land use transformations are permanent, as in the cases at study. The paper relies both on primary and secondary sources. After an analysis of the domestic legal sources, it discusses investment practices in order to provide a better understanding of the challenges posed by large-scale land acquisitions in both countries. This work aims to contribute to two broad fields of literature. First of all, it aims to advance knowledge on contemporary processes of large-scale land acquisitions by discussing the legal framework in which they take place. Secondly, it aims to contribute to the literature in comparative law by providing a critical comparison of selected aspects of land law in the countries of the study.