Bureaucracy versus land grabbing? Replacing the state in a fashionable debate in Tanzania.(Sina Schlimmer)

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” So how will you just make a grab on village land? If you want a village land you have to get first of all the consent of the villages and then go another step, make a transfer from village land to general land. And then from general land, getting the land as a derivative title of Tanzanian Investment Center. All these steps. If you have to go through all that kind of bureaucracy and you’re still making grab [rire] it’s either intended that you have that land but not land grabbing, no. That will not be possible. […] the land tenure system itself has got its own cumbersomeness. And you won’t be very successful in land grabbing. Show me just two or three successful land grabs in Tanzania where you can sit back and say OK, this one is successful. ” (Interview with a Tanzanian land lawyer, 15/04/2015, Dar es Salaam). Tanzania is considered a target country of the recent wave of land investment which has been hitting the Global south since the late 2000s (Cotula, 2013 ; Deininger et al, 2011; German et al, 2011 1). The debate refers to a seemingly new dimension of land transfers, commonly qualified as land grabbing, whereby private stakeholders and multinationals acquire large plots in countries where land is supposed to be abundant, idle and unused. Seeking for food security, alternative energy sources or more material objects of speculation, investors from industrial and emergent countries negotiate land deals especially for the cultivation of food crops and biofuels. Regarding the situation of land investment in Tanzania, the Landmatrix, an international database capturing land deals all over the globe, records 36 land transfers between the Tanzanian government and foreign investment companies in 2016.

Sina Schlimmer, »Bureaucracy versus land grabbing? Replacing the state in a fashionable debate in Tanzania », Mambo! Volume XIV (4), 2016

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