Recycled fable or immutable truth? Reflections on the 1973 land-tenure reform project in Lesotho and lessons for the future

Abstract

Lesotho's postcolonial state land-reform project has failed to produce intended outcomes. Mainstream explanation points to the antagonism of customary chiefs to state-sponsored reforms, because these were meant to curtail their power over land. First mooted in 1973, when the first land-tenure reforms were attempted, this explanation has been uncritically accepted as immutable truth by a majority of academic commentators and policymakers in Lesotho and elsewhere. I argue in this paper that this explanation is a fable, superficial and shallow, and that the failure of the postcolonial Lesotho land-reform project can fruitfully be explained by reference to the ideology of the regime that assumed state power at independence in 1966, and not by simplistic reference to the antagonism of customary chiefs per se.

Citation

Leduka, R.C. Recycled fable or immutable truth? Reflections on the 1973 land-tenure reform project in Lesotho and lessons for the future. Africa Today (2007) 53 (3) 91-111. [DOI: 10.1353/at.2007.0005]

Recycled fable or immutable truth? Reflections on the 1973 land-tenure reform project in Lesotho and lessons for the future

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