Analysis of state institutional capacity for land acquisition in Ghana: A case study of the public land bureaucracy
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Gaining access to land is a problem that confronts both Government and non state capitalist agents in Ghana. The study examined why the state lacks an effective institutional capacity with the political and technical competence to mediate conflict of interests in its domestic land polity for land acquisition. It was interesting to observe that even Governments faced problems of land acquisition within the sovereign boundaries of the state. The investigative searchlight was therefore put on the competence of the public land bureaucracy to mediate conflict of interests among autonomous rational actors in two empirical cases of government land acquisition. From the perspective of the rational institutional political theory, the study discovered that the public land bureaucracy lack any formal obligations with traditional land owners and land tenants for these actors to collectively engage Government in a rational discourse of land acquisition. On the contrary, the public land bureaucracy has not shed off its post-colonial cloth as an institution of violence used by Governments to deconstruct rival traditional land institutions. The traditional land institutions however own about 80% of the country’s available land. Moreover, traditional land institutions continue to receive social legitimacy and among the general populace. Conversely, the power status of the public land bureaucracy have seen continued decline in line with its negative productive efficiency. Underlying the problems of government land acquisition is a constitutionally bifurcated state with divided sovereignty over its land and people; whose public land bureaucracy lacks the political competence to mediate conflict of interests among Government, Traditional Authorities, and Land Tenants in discourses of land acquisition. The traditional state makers who laid the foundations of the state through war-making are in conflict over land ownership with the modern state makers who also inherited the state from colonial mercantilist powers. The emerging hypothesis from the study is that; a political institution with strong institutionalized obligatory relationships with relevant autonomous rational actors is more likely to competently mediate conflict of interests in a discursive object or issue, than a political institution that has weak or no institutionalized obligations with relevant autonomous rational actors within its institutionalized environment.