A large number of land applications in Zambézia, despite having been made in the late 1980s or early 1990s had not received provisional authorisation by the end of 1998. Article 46 of the Land Law Regulations, which came into effect on the 8th December of that year, introduced a 12 month period within which the pending applications under the old regulations had to be renewed, making them immediately subject to the new law and regulations. This requirement was broadly publicised in a notice published on the 14th May 1999 and in newspaper and radio campaigns. A further period of three months for renewal of these applications was introduced in late 1999, after a very low rate of renewal. A further extension was then permitted by default through the conducting of an information campaign, in June to September of 2000, involving the delivery of individual letters to approximately 2500 applicants affected by the requirement and announcements on the radio. In August 2000, under instructions from the Minister, the SPGC office ‘archived’ all those applications that had been pending as of 08/12/98 and which had not been renewed. However, applicants were still permitted to renew these applications (after the cut off date), a situation that continued until July 2001. In August 2001 a decision was finally taken by DINAGECA to cancel over 1000 applications from Zambézia.
The number of applications which were given provisional approval also increased rapidly in the second half of 2001. In June 2001 there were 725 applications that had been given provision approval. Only 17 of these had been approved since the passing of the new regulations in 1998. By December 2001 the number of approved applications had risen to 944 and by February 2002 the backlog of applications was virtually cleared, with only a few of the more problematic applications remaining.
Table 1: Status of land applications in Zambézia, March 2002. [Source: Serviços Provinciais de Geografia e Cadastro, Zambézia]
The rapid increase in the processing of the backlog of land concessions has been the result of significant political pressure, in the first instance by donors on the Mozambican government (mainly for the cancellation of applications) and then from the government via the Ministry of Agriculture on SPGC (mainly for the processing of outstanding applications to the provisional approval stage). From preliminary research done by ZADP it would appear that the speed at which applications were processed in the second half of 2001 has had a negative impact on the quality of the community consultations done and the assessment of the business plans of applications (see below next section and also Cau, 2001). Furthermore, there has been no field investigation done to ensure that cancelled applications are no longer being utilised. Consequently, the potential for these applications to contribute to the realisation of the poverty alleviation objectives of the land policy has been diminished.
A key challenge in the short term for SPGC and the government in general is to confirm that all cancelled applications are no longer being utilised and to investigate applications which should have already implemented their business plans (in the case of foreigners 2 years after provisional approval and in the case of Mozambicans 5 years after provisional approval).