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Applied Research



The Legal Entity Assess­ment Project (LEAP)
is a col­lab­o­ra­tive project that was started in 1999 in KwaZulu-Natal. It was a response to grow­ing con­cerns in the land sec­tor around the appar­ent dys­func­tion­al­ity of the com­mon prop­erty insti­tu­tions (CPI’s) that were estab­lished under the land reform pro­grammes. These CPI’s, most com­monly Trusts and Com­mu­nal Prop­erty Asso­ci­a­tions (CPA’s), were being estab­lished to take over the title of tracts of land on behalf of groups of peo­ple who were ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the Land Reform pro­grammes.

The ini­tial objec­tive of the project, what is now referred to as phase 1, was to develop a bet­ter under­stand­ing of the nature of the prob­lems CPA’s and Trusts were fac­ing and what fac­tors affected their abil­ity to func­tion. While prob­lems were numer­ous, it became clear that with­out a con­cep­tual frame­work, a way in which to assess these insti­tu­tions, analy­sis of their prob­lems and devel­op­ment of solu­tions would be weak.

Phase 2 of LEAP con­cen­trated on devel­op­ing a con­cep­tual frame­work
that could be used in exam­in­ing cases in the field, and analysing under­ly­ing causes of dys­func­tion and pos­si­ble solu­tions.

Using this con­cep­tual frame­work LEAP moved into Phase 3 on the premise that the key pur­pose of CPI’s was to secure tenure for the group and indi­vid­u­als and that pri­mar­ily secure tenure is about:

  • Defend­able rights and enforce­able duties to prop­erty and ben­e­fits flow­ing from it;
  • Rules, pro­ce­dures and sys­tems for man­ag­ing these prop­erty rights and duties.

This frame­work has allowed LEAP to map the com­po­nents of com­mon prop­erty tenure and develop indi­ca­tors to assess the tenure secu­rity of groups and mem­bers of groups in com­mon prop­erty sit­u­a­tions.

While Leap’s early work focused on rural tenure in KwaZulu-Natal, it has widened to include urban and rural tenure issues across the coun­try so that the range and diver­sity of func­tional and dys­func­tional tenure arrange­ments can be bet­ter under­stood.

Leap works in col­lab­o­ra­tion with part­ners, includ­ing the LRC, who have long-term rela­tion­ships with urban and rural com­mu­ni­ties. Leap team mem­bers are based in a vari­ety of organ­i­sa­tions and it has a Steer­ing Com­mit­tee also draw­ing in peo­ple from dif­fer­ent insti­tu­tions and organ­i­sa­tions, includ­ing LRC to engage with the strate­gic direc­tion given to the work. 

Leap devel­oped its work using the prac­tice of estab­lish­ing a num­ber of part­ner­ships, which have pro­vided a basis across a range of sit­u­a­tions and enabled work to grap­ple within this diver­sity and com­plex­ity. It has also pro­vided for struc­tured cross-project learn­ing, col­lec­tive analy­sis of tenure prac­tice and pol­icy and to use these to develop future options for gov­er­nance.



Com­mu­nity Agency for Social Enquiry (C A S E) is an inde­pen­dent South African Research NGO, focus­ing on socio-economic and pol­icy research in sup­port of social and eco­nomic jus­tice. The LRC col­lab­o­rates with C A S E on our Rural Women’s Action Research project.






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Tel: +27 11 836 9831
Email: info@lrc.org.za

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