The dynamics of public land privatisation and commodification in urban DRC: a case study of Bukavu

Benjamin Muhoza Kanze

With recent land scarcity and tremendous increase in land prices in Bukavu coupled with anarchic urbanisation, state land is viewed as the remaining viable land in the city. This state land is occupied by state buildings that were mostly built in colonial times and have become old thus reinforcing the need for their privatisation and commodification. Building on in-depth interviews conducted in Bukavu and several cases of privatisation undertaken under the Mobutu regime, RCD rebellion to the current decentralisation system, this paper investigates the dynamics of access to state land over time in a context of multiple political and institutional settings. Acts of privatisation and commodification of state land have become a space for power struggles through negotiation, imposition, and contestation between fragmented branches of public administration and political leaders. Moreover, they are instruments of governance that allow rent extraction in contexts of patronage relationships and a factor driving capital accumulation beyond the scope of ruling elites.