By Cisomo Zulu

Land is one of the fundamental privileges one can enjoy. Ownership of land promotes dignity and creates pathways to empowerment and economic opportunities. Secure land and property rights create incentives for investment in improving land and increasing value. It provides an asset that can be leveraged for business activities and other enterprises. Beyond promoting economic growth, it also serves as protection for inheritance, ensuring the land is enjoyed by the family for multiple generations.

However, since the inception of the National Land Titling Programme it has been discovered that disputes are a significant deterrence preventing landowners from accessing Certificates of Titles. Families frequently find themselves fighting over property, and this has brought about a number of challenges affecting community and family values.

One of the most significant benefits of a Certificate of Title is security of tenure. However, beneficiaries tend to usually overlook this aspect and how it can protect all members of a family, as they are mostly concerned with whose name is put on the title. In Chainda, a family of 8 siblings was in conflict over a prosperous piece of land owned by the family. In such situations, the intervention of the adjudication committee helps provide guidance and resolve existing disputes. However some of the siblings were sceptical about involving the adjudication committee as they claimed to be uncomfortable discussing family issues with outsiders. This did not stop the persistent committee from explaining the importance of the Systematic Land Titling Program. After hearing the numerous benefits of the program, some of the siblings eventually agreed to resolve their dispute through the adjudication committee. However, during the resolution process tension and friction erupted among the siblings leading to mother weeping at the sight of her children disagreeing over land.

Despite the second born being more stable and independent, as she was a victim of divorce, her brother made demeaning remarks about her comparing her failed marriage to her inability to manage the land. This was a clear example of how women are looked down on in society. Additionally, the woman who built a modern structure on her piece of land narrated how she fends for her mother and child without the help of her male siblings, also disclosing that she cares for a sibling who developed a mental illness after a road traffic accident.

However, after physically inspecting the property borders, it was discovered that the siblings had already demarcated the land among themselves. The only problem was a dispute over who would received the piece of land which had a bar and a scrap metal business, which were the most viable assets on the land.

The family later agreed to be captured under a multi-unit with each sibling getting a fare share of the land, and the business properties were captured under the mothers’ name.

By resolving the dispute through the adjudication committee, this family was able to save significant time and money that would have otherwise been lost during the traditional court process. The adjudication committee has become a popular method of dispute resolution for landowners participating in the National Land Titling Program for its accessibility and mediator approach.