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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies
Title The interplay of urban land tenurial systems and its effects on the poor: a case study of Manzini in Swaziland
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2013
URL http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/43593/1/Simelane,_Hloniphile_Yvonne.pdf
This research examines the interrelationships between customary and statutory tenure systems in
Swaziland, in relation to urban development. It also focuses on the assumptions, aspirations and practices
of modern and traditional authorities in relation to the processes of urban development. The Swaziland
Urban Development Project (SUDP) initiated in the late 1980’s, to upgrade informal settlements of
Swaziland’s cities, is used to examine the extent to which these land tenure interrelationships impact on
the residents and the upgrading of informal settlements. Implementation of the SUDP (insitu upgrading)
in Manzini, only took place in 2007 – a decade after the original planned commencement date. This was
because the traditional leaders of the informal settlements of Moneni area (an area where the project
would be piloted), did not accept the project. Since the Government and the Municipal Council of
Manzini did not want to use force (Municipal Council of Manzini, 2004) it entered into further
negotiations. This study investigates why the project was not accepted, examines the role of the
traditional leaders in the non-acceptance of the project and the changes in attitudes towards the project in
2007. In the process, it explores the diverse responses to the SUDP and the processes of negotiation
between the traditional and urban authorities, demonstrating how both authorities fought for retention of
their authority over the area and also for their own vision of ’development’. Such contestation resulted in
protracted discussions on the part of the urban authorities, whilst the issue of authority remains
To investigate the impact of these interactions on the residents of the informal settlements, the
study interrogates the assumptions of the development planners (project officials from Ministry of
Housing and Urban Development (MHUD), City Councils and the World Bank) with regard to the
benefits of the project. The different understandings of development priorities, different assumptions
about the outcomes of the SUDP and the complex interactions that occur between formal and traditional
structures have undermined efforts to improve living conditions of the urban residents. This study
demonstrates that these assumptions of policy-makers and planners and their aspirations are colonially
inherent and based on western thinking about modernisation. The implementation of grandiose plans and
the making of a beautiful city are pursued, whilst residents lament that from their perspective there is ‘no
development’. In addition, the study takes cognisance of social differentiation - separately examining how
women in the project area were affected by the project. This study therefore demonstrates that the main 2
challenge underlying the process of improving the living conditions of informal settlements’ residents is
the existence of different urban land tenure systems, managed by various authorities namely; urban
authorities (government, municipalities) and traditional authorities, both asserting their legitimacy over
the areas.

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