Land Administration (LA) is an element of public administration concerning the formal and informal public regulation of land, including marine, forest and mineral resources. In our definition, it is a holistic concept that includes and co-ordinates rights regulation and boundary demarcation, information and data systems, spatial planning, land use and environmental management, land valuation, dispute resolution and enforcement; and includes both state and non-state institutions as well as private sector and community organisations. LA in the sense of a holistic, co-ordinated and integrated system, has been a highly neglected element in South Africa’s land reform programme resulting in dysfunctional LA that needs to be urgently addressed to support the goals of land reform, economic development and social equity. LA is the critical implementation element of land governance, which FAO defines as all the formal and informal rules, institutions, organisations and processes through which public and private actors articulate their interests, frame and prioritise issues and make, implement, monitor and enforce decisions relating to land and natural resources. It includes the manner in which decisions are made, implemented and enforced and competing interests managed. LA is the element that actualises these land-related policies, laws, plans and programmes. Land governance and LA are characterised by fragmentation, misalignment, inconsistency and inequality in South Africa. State land administration focuses on the formal system governing the cadastral and land registry system, while land rights and uses outside of this are largely regulated by local or hybrid institutions with minimal state regulation. Conventional technical approaches to land management and regulation are inadequate to address the challenges of equitable LA.

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