IRIN Africa reports on the legacy of Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, who will retire after today's elections. Among this socialist's programs: to legalize squatters so they can get loans from the country's well-off banks and capital markets.
It's a wonderful goal, expressed compellingly by Hernando de Soto in his book, The Mystery of Capital. But studies in de Soto's homeland, Peru, have shown that title deeds have negligible value when it comes to getting access to credit. Despite being legalized, the former squatters still find that private sector interests are loathe to invest in low income communities. They've simply gone from total exclusion to redlining.
Legalization is one strategy for empowering these communities--but it is a convenient myth to think that the title deed solves anything.