Evaluating cadastral systems in periods of uncertainty : a study of Cape Town's Xhosa-speaking communities.
Barry, Michael Brendan.
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Evaluating the effectiveness of a cadastral system in situations where the social, political and economic environments are volatile and there is uncertainty over whether the cadastral system is likely to be used in the manner intended by the authorities remains a priority in developing countries. South African society, having negotiated a new democratic political dispensation in the early 1990’s, has been experiencing fundamental social and political change. In this context, the experimental focus of this study is on analysing effective cadastral system usage by people who were previously excluded from owning land in urban areas. The study explores the effectiveness of the existing cadastral system in addressing the wants of Xhosa-speaking communities in Cape Town during this period of substantial change. There is a paucity of substantive and methodological theory to evaluate a cadastral system in an uncertain, unstable situation. Based on soft systems theory, strategic management theory and existing cadastral theory, a conceptual framework to understand a particular situation has been developed. Using this conceptual framework, and drawing on the theory of planned behaviour and a social change model, an evaluative framework has been created that is germane to the South African situation. The primary focus of the empirical work in this study was on usage of the system of cadastral boundaries and the land registration system. A set of four case studies that includes an informal settlement, two site-and service schemes and a suburb where much of the land is held in private ownership were studied. These case studies were augmented by a study of a large area that is predominantly Xhosa-speaking in Cape Town’s eastern metropole. The conceptual and evaluative frameworks and the methodology adopted to conduct this research were found to constitute valid substantive and methodological theoretical foundations for studies of cadastral systems and land administration systems. In the context of the empirical work conducted, it is concluded that in Cape Town’s Xhosa speaking communities, in a stable situation where a favourable environment encourages its usage, the existing cadastral system will be effective and used in the manner intended by government. In volatile, unstable situations, the cadastral system will not be fully utilised for a variety of reasons. One reason being that in a rapidly changing social and political environment the land administration authority may not be able to govern effectively, and at the same time factions within a settlement may manipulate the land tenure rules to suit their own objectives. In such situations, conflict is inherent and natural in the relationship between the authorities and the community within a particular settlement and in the relationship between factions within that community. However, in this study it was found that in these uncertain situations that although cadastral instruments and processes were not used to effect all transactions in land, they form the essential core of a range of systems that are used to affirm an individual’s claims to rights in land. Moreover, in cases of conflict over land rights, the official records and surveyed cadastral boundaries constituted the point of departure in all negotiations.