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Adopt harmonised land policy, experts urge members States

The two days Ad Hoc Experts Group Meeting (AEGM) on the theme “Land, Identity and Socio-Economic Transformation in Southern Africa” has ended today with experts urging Member States and development partners to adopt harmonised land policy, legal and regulatory frameworks as well as accelerate the domestication of regional and continental land policy and frameworks.

The experts further urged member States to integrate customary laws (codify customary law) with statutory laws to eliminate legal duality which often puts many marginalised groups including women and youth at risk of exploitation and further marginalisation; improve and harmonise land-related laws and institutions including introducing explicit legal provisions on gender, youth, people with disabilities and other social groups on access to land.

The experts also recommended the introduction of land taxes to discourage speculative holding of land and encourage its productive use; the introduction of regional frameworks and policies that define, protect and enforce rights of those at risk of loss or exclusion occasioned by identity differences including race, ethnicity, gender, age, political orientation and religion and the development of a common regional policy on large scale land based investments (LSLBIs) that promotes inclusive investments that contribute to broad-based capital formation and in turn, assist governments to sharpen policy, guidelines, results frameworks and monitoring systems for LSLBIs.

Additionally, the experts urged development partners to collaborate with the AUC/NEPAD/AUDA to update the continental framework on land to incorporate issues of identity as critical in the attainment of AU Agenda 2063 and UN Sustainable Development aspirations as well as to support capacity building for SADC and COMESA to provide effective leadership, coordination, build partnerships, promote policy advocacy, operationalize comprehensive monitoring and evaluation frameworks to track progress, mobilize resources and to actualize a fund for land policy from stakeholders.

Meanwhile, in his closing remarks Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Regional Director for Southern Africa, Said Adejumobi noted the need for more detailed studies particularly country case studies of experiences in the region in order to know what works and what does not work.

Adejumobi further stressed that the “Land, Identity and Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation in Southern Africa” study stand to benefit from such country case studies experiences. “Data and statistics from such studies will help governments in the region to make well informed decisions”, he said.

A broad spectrum of stakeholders including experts and academics working on land related issues, private sector, civil society organisations, member States (especially Ministries responsible for land and agriculture) and COMESA Secretariats, the African Union, Oxfam Zambia, World Bank, the United Nations agencies among others attended the meeting.

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