The main argument of this paper is that the experiences of the Community Based Rural Land Development Programme (CBRLDP) are unlikely to provide valuable lessons to aid the scale up of the model across the country because of the critical disjuncture between the neoliberal drive guiding the reforms and the popular perception of how land redistribution should actually proceed in communities with excess land. They favour restitution as a means of rectifying land tenure inequities perpetrated by both the colonial and postcolonial regimes contrary to the CBRLDP initiative which unequivocally advocates a market-based land redistribution on a willing-buyer and -seller basis. Moreover, the government's commitment to address the question of land once and for all remains at the level of rhetoric despite the consensus that land is a primary productive resource in the country and one which holds the key to poverty reduction. The outcomes, successes and failures of the CBRLDP have been further driven, influenced and shaped by political processes resulting from the interaction and contestation of diverse stakeholders involved with the CBRLDP and endowed with differing forms and varying degrees of power, authority and influence. The major lesson from the CBRLDP implementation experiences is 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 underlined by the sheer determination of stakeholders engaged with the CBRLDP to shift the burden of the reforms elsewhere as they jostle to get the most of the evolving institutional arrangements governing land ownership and use.
IPPG Discussion Paper Series Number Twenty, DFID, London, UK, 25 pp.
Exploring the Politics of Land Reforms in Malawi: A Case Study of the Community Based Rural Land Development Programme (CBRLDP)