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

04 May 2020 Staff Writer
NEWS RELEASE: ZAMBIA HIGH COURT UPHOLDS DISPLACED COMMUNITIES’ LAND RIGHTS...

Lusaka, 4 May 2020 – On 30 April 2020, the High Court of Zambia handed down a significant judgment on the land and property rights of rural communities. The case was brought by 13 community members, each representing her or his…

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04 May 2020 Staff Writer
Zambia: Challenging the displacement of communities from customary land in the S...

The Muchinda Royal Establishment, the Zambia Land Alliance and SALC supported a displaced community who is currently residing in Musangashi Forest Reserve after they were violently displaced from their ancestral land in Mulembo, near Mulembo River (now called Billis Farm…

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17 Mar 2020 Staff Writer
Celebrating International Women’s Day...

International Women’s Day (IWD), which was held on 8 March 2020, represents an important day in the fight for women’s rights, equality and non-discrimination in Southern Africa and around the world. IWD is the perfect time to take stock of…

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21 Feb 2020 Staff Writer
SALC IN THE NEWS: ESWATINI WOMEN CHALLENGE OPPRESIVE LAWS...

Fair Planet 21 February 2020 Eswatini Women Challenge Oppressive Laws Hlengiwe Tsabedze, a married 33-year old shop-floor worker in Mbabane, the capital of the tiny southern African kingdom of Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), does not appreciate the importance of the recent…

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03 Sep 2019 Tambudzai Gonese
Policy Brief: The Recognition of Customary Marriages In Zimbabwe And The Propose...

The Zimbabwe Marriage Bill, 2019 was gazetted and released for public comment on 19 July 2019. The Bill proposes to amend  the law governing marriage in Zimbabwe, in order to  consolidate the different laws and to align the law with…

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30 Aug 2019 Anneke Meerkotter
PRESS STATEMENT: ESWATINI HIGH COURT DECLARES DOCTRINE OF MARITAL POWER UNCONSTI...

Eswatini, 30 August 2019 – A full bench of the High Court of Eswatini today held that the common law doctrine of marital power discriminates against married women and offends their constitutional rights to dignity and equality. Marital power refers…

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30 Aug 2019 Staff Writer
Eswatini: 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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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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