For this research entitled ‘Happy Hut Million’, COMALISO was motivated by that 60% of Zimbabwe’s property is valueless. This is largely due to the country’s colonial experience that confined indigenous populations to what colonisers termed ‘Reserved Lands.” These lands had no titles other than being ‘controlled’ by traditional leaders. Even the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979 that brought civil war to a halt made only one reference to ‘rural areas’. However, since the arrangement, like the Rhodesian government, placed chiefs in Parliament, there was de facto acceptance that traditional leaders would continue playing a role as custodians of ‘Tribal Trust Lands’. The government of Zimbabwe saw it pertinent to perpetuate the narrative that rural areas were not just poor, but also its citizens were not capable of owning that land outside the algorithm of traditional supervision.
COMALISO then committed itself to carry out a nationwide survey that would give clarity on the overall perception of rural citizens on advantages of and anxieties about title deeds. The primary objective was to ascertain the degree to which rural citizens knew about the benefits of and enforcement of private property rights. Once the results were analysed, the secondary objective was to use the outcomes to influence legislators, policy makers and traditional leaders to change regulations that would allow rural property owners to initiate nationwide property titling for their homesteads.