Women’s Land and Property Rights

SALC’s Women’s Land and Property Rights programme has the following objectives:

  • Developing jurisprudence through cases challenging discrimination in areas of inheritance; sharing and distribution of matrimonial property; legal capacity of married women; and chieftainship.
  • Challenging the denial of women’s right to participate in decision-making on acquisition of land resources and developmental programmes affecting rural land and resources.
  • Highlighting the particular impact of forced evictions and mining pollution on women.

On-going cases:

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights/Lesotho: Case on women’s right to chieftainship in Lesotho.
Malawi: Challenging uncompensated disturbances, damages, loss and suffering due to extensive to extensive mining and prospecting operations
Swaziland: Case challenging common law marital power
Swaziland: A challenge to the customary principle of male primogeniture
Zambia: Preventing the displacement of rural women from their customary land
Zambia: Case challenging forced eviction of communities living on customary due to infrastructure development 
Zambia: Long-term rural residents declared squatters and ordered to vacate the land without fair compensation
Zambia: Challenging the taking over of customary land and allocation to commercial farmers and the destruction of property and contamination of the environment without consent or compensation

Precedent cases:

Botswana: Case challenging constitutionality of customary law rule which provides for male inheritance of family home
Malawi: Case challenging property grabbing of widow’s land
Zimbabwe: Case challenging decision of Master to award widow a child’s share of farm acquired by couple

25 Apr 2019 Brigadier Siachitema
SWAZILAND: A CHALLENGE TO THE CUSTOMARY PRINCIPLE OF MALE PRIMOGENITURE...

SALC is working with Women and Law in Southern Africa’s Swaziland chapter (WLSA-Swaziland) on a case challenging the customary principle or practice of male primogeniture for being inconsistent with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Swaziland Act No. 001 of…

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05 Apr 2019 Brigadier Siachitema
Zambia: Challenging the taking over of customary land and allocation to commerci...

SALC is supporting four residents (Petitioners) of Senior Chief Muchinda in Serenje District of the Central Province of Zambia. In 2015, the Petitioners were approached by an investor and commercial farmer who claimed that he owned the land the Petitioners…

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05 Apr 2019 Staff Writer
Zambia: Challenging the taking over of customary land and allocation to commerci...

SALC is supporting four residents (Petitioners) of Senior Chief Muchinda in Serenje District of the Central Province of Zambia. In 2015, the Petitioners were approached by an investor and commercial farmer who claimed that he owned the land the Petitioners…

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29 Aug 2018 Staff Writer
Media Advisory: Zambia High Court to hear a commercial farming and displacement ...

Lusaka—On Friday, the High Court in Zambia will hear evidence in Asa Lato and 30 Others v Davision Chibale and Others, a case challenging the allocation of the community’s customary land to commercial farmers without the community’s knowledge, consent or…

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06 Feb 2018 Staff Writer
ZAMBIA: PREVENTING THE DISPLACEMENT OF RURAL WOMEN FROM THEIR CUSTOMARY LAND...

SALC is assisting the Munte Community of Senior Chief Muchinda (the Community) with retaining the land they have occupied and farmed for generations. The Community is challenging the allocation by the local land authority to commercial farmers without consultation or…

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06 Feb 2018 Staff Writer
MALAWI: CHALLENGING UNCOMPENSATED DISTURBANCES, DAMAGES, LOSS AND SUFFERING DUE ...

SALC is assisting the Kanyika Community based at Kanyika in the Mzimba District of Malawi to recover damages and compensation arising from extensive mining and prospecting operations conducted by Globe Metals and Mining (Africa) Limited (Globe Metals) with the authority…

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06 Feb 2018 Staff Writer
ZAMBIA: LONG-TERM RURAL RESIDENTS DECLARED SQUATTERS AND ORDERED TO VACATE THE L...

 SALC is currently collaborating with the Muchinda Royal Establishment and the Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) to support an appeal challenging the decision of the Magistrate for the Serenje District, finding that land occupied by twelve families belongs to a commercial…

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06 Oct 2017 Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh
2015-2017 BIENNIAL REPORT...

SALC envisions a region in which domestic and regional courts are strong, independent, and fully functional and in which they uphold and enforce the rule of law and human rights. To that end, SALC works with domestic lawyers in each…

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05 Oct 2017 Staff Writer
NEWS RELEASE: ZAMBIA HIGH COURT GRANTS AND INJUNCTION IN FAVOUR OF DISPLACED COM...

5 October 2017 On Thursday 28 September 2017, the High Court of Zambia, per Justice G.C. Chawatama granted an interim injunction in a case in which the Mugoto community (Plaintiffs) are challenging the Chikankata District Council (1st Defendant)’s taking over…

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29 Aug 2017 Staff Writer
Swaziland: Challenge to the Common Law Marital Power and Marriage Act...

SALC is working with Women and Law in Southern Africa’s Swaziland chapter (WLSA-Swaziland) on a case challenging the common law marital power and the Marriage Act of 1964. Under the common law marital power, a married woman cannot conclude contracts…

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29 May 2017 Staff Writer
Zambia: Challenging Forced Eviction of Communities Living on Customary Land...

SALC is working with the Zambia Land Alliance to challenge the newly created Chikankata District Council’s taking over of individual farms and the grazing land of a community of 4429 people without following the legal and constitutional procedures. No compensation,…

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24 May 2017 Staff Writer
News release: Malawi High Court rules in favour of a widow previously dispossess...

On Monday 22 May 2017, the High Court of Malawi, sitting in Mzuzu, dismissed an action brought by the Plaintiff, a daughter to an elite couple, against the Defendant, an 89 year old grandmother. The Court found that the property…

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