Imithetho yomhlaba yaseMsinga: The living law of land in Msinga, KwaZulu-Natal
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This report describes the ‘living law’ of land in one part of Msinga, a deep rural area of KwaZulu-Natal. It presents research findings from the Mchunu and Mthembu tribal areas, where a three-year action-research project was carried out by staff of the Mdukutshani Rural Development Programme. Launched in 2007, at a time when implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004 (CLRA) appeared imminent, the project aimed to gain a detailed understanding of land tenure in Msinga, facilitate local-level discussion of potential solutions to emerging problems around land rights, provide information on the CLRA to residents and authority structures, and help generate ideas on how local people could engage with the new law. Meetings, interviews and focus groups convened by the project between 2007 and 2009 generated lively discussions and debates on a range of issues and problems related to land tenure in Msinga. Policy-makers need to consider how to convene conversations of this kind, on a large scale, before they launch a new round of tenure reform policy formulation and law making. Our experience suggests that well designed processes are critically important to ensure informed discussion, but also that ordinary rural people, not just their leaders, are more than ready to engage in debates about policies that could have major impacts on their lives.