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Deeds

INTRODUCTION:

The Deeds Registry for Swaziland, as established under Section 3 of the Deeds Registry Act No. 37/1968 was up to and until the 25th June, 1973 situated in Pretoria. At its establishment in Swaziland, all matters and records kept in the Pretoria Registry were brought to Swaziland and the Deeds Registry Department fell under the porfolio of the Ministry of Justice and now under the Ministry of Natural Resourses and Ernegy. When the office started operating in Swaziland its staff component was (i) a Registrar of Deeds, (ii) an Assistant Registrar of Deeds, (iii) three Examiners of Deeds, (iv) a Clerical Officer, (v) a Typist, and (vi) a Messenger.



2. MISSION STATEMENT FOR THE DEEDS REGISTRY:

(i) To examine all Deeds or other documents submitted for execution or registration, and, after examination execute or register them as by law permitted.

(ii) To take charge of and preserve all the records of the Deeds Registry in a document processing system that will provide an effective storage and retrieval system as well as maximum safety and security.

(iii) To collect revenue for the Central Government in the form of stamp duty, fees of office and search fees.


3. ACCOMMODATION:


Section 3 (1) of the Deeds Registry Act No. 37/1968 provides that the Deeds Registry for Swaziland shall be situate at such place as the Minister may by notice in the Gazette prescribe. The Registry is presently situate at the Government Offices in the Old-Income Tax Building.
EXECUTION AND REGISTRATION OF DEEDS AND OTHER DOCUMENTS.

In 1974 the number of Deeds and other documents executed and registered in the Deeds Registry totalled 938. Two decades later the number had increased to 1850 (1994). To date the number of these Deeds and documents is estimated at 3,000, a clear sign that the number will keep on increasing as more and more people invest in real estate.

The future indicates that the land tenure might change with new forms of land markets and rights on land being introduced. Examples are the introduction of Sectional Titles and leasehold over crown land and Swazi Nation Land. These introductions may indeed impact on the capacity of the Deeds Registry staff and could bring up the issue of institutional strengthening.


FROM MANUAL AGE TO DIGITAL AGE.

In the late 1980s the Deeds Registry conducted a feasibility study with the intention of establishing a most suitable and cost effective document management system.
The study came out with two solutions, namely:
(a) Computerisation of all Deeds Officer Records for easy access and retrieval:-
A capital project was submitted to Government Central Agencies in 1993 and eventually government funded this project which started in April, 1995. Since that year the Registry has done away with manual land, debts and miscellaneous contract registers because all that information has been computerised and can be easily accessed or retrieved within seconds. This is an on-going project as the registers are updated daily as ownership changes hands and new contracts are entered into.


(b) Imaging and indexing of all Deeds Officer Records:-
This project, also fully sponsored by the Swaziland Government, started in the year 2000. Deeds Office Records are scanned, indexed and electronically stored for easy retrieval and archieval purposes. The first step was to scan, index and store electronically all active deeds and documents from the year 1960 to 2000. This has been achieved and the Registry is now on-line. The second step; which is also complete, was to backfile from the year 1959 to 1910. All these active records can now be viewed and updated on the screen in the computer. In short the Deeds Registry operates its own local network with work stations.
The two systems are integrated so that they check each other whenever a need to do so arises.


HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT:

The Deeds Registry recruits and train its personnel on the job. It has been fortunate however, that in the 1980s it got technical assistance from the South African Government through her Embassy in Swaziland to have its personnel study a Diploma in Deeds Examination and Registration. Some officers have taken advantage of this sponsorship and have obtained certificates while some are still pursuing the same. In addition, the Deeds Registry has its own Training Committee and two Training Officers to guide and make needs assessment in an effort to train its personnel. As a result officers have obtained certificates from various courses and are well equiped to carry out their respective duties thus increasing productivity.


COLLABORATIVE EFFORTS:

As a custodian of Swaziland's Legal Cadastre, the Deeds Registry does not only supply other Government Departments dealing with land related data with information, but also attends to various workshops and committees where land is a subject matter be it a project, policy, land allocation or dispute over ownership and so forth. Clear examples are the present urban development project, the formulation of a National Land Policy peri-Urban Policy, Resettlement Policy and the future establishment of a Land Information System.

The Deeds Registry is also helping Central Government in the collection of revenue mainly on stamp duties, fees of office and search fees.



5. THE FUTURE:

The Deeds Registry in the future intends to achieve the following:-
(i) Reduce paperwork as an effort towards a paper less office. This depends on the stability and reliability of the current on going projects aforementioned.
(ii) Electronic lodgement of Deeds and Documents:
Because deeds and other documents are now electronically stored, the Registry will investigate the possibility of putting in place an infrastructure that will enable conveyancers to lodge and prepare their documents at their work place. For this to happen conveyancers would have to apply and get licensed for a gateway facility. This can not only make conveyancing faster and efficient, but also improve revenue collection for the Deeds Registry Office.
(iii) Moving Swaziland's National Land Information Service into the public arena:
This can be achieved by linking and housing together the Deeds Registry and the Surveyor-General's Office so that a one stop information centre can be established.
(iv) Establishing a Land Information System. This is long overdue and certainly a costly but cost effective exercise. Linking together the Deeds Registry and the Surveys Departments can form the basis of this National Project which has invaluable benefits. Allocation of Natural Resources is best achieved when a National Land Information System is in place.
(v) Articulating and registration of all rights in and on land including allocations on Swazi Nation Land. This could facilitate solving Chiefs' boundaries, community and individual disputes. It can further formalise land holdings on Swazi Nation Land and control informal settlements and land markets.



6. CONSTRAINTS:

1. The biggest constraint, perhaps for the Ministry as a whole is budgetary. In order to realise the above goals the Deeds Registry must:-

(a) Be adequately staffed. This is not easy because of the present zero growth.
(b) Obtain funds for establishing a National Information Service Centre and a National Land Information System,
(c) Obtain funds for hardware maintenance, software upgrading, software licencing and systems administration.

We are of the view that unless government changes its National Budgeting approach ministries and their departments may fail to perform to their utmost expectations.

2. The absence of a National Land Policy hinders development on land generally for the whole country specifically where issues of access to land, land use and security of tenure are concerned.

3. The Deeds Registry is also affected by administrative procedures namely:-
(a) Centralisation of the budget by the Ministry , and
(b) Allocation of funds by activity instead of a responsibility centre.

The main problem here is that a responsibilty centre cannot order and dispatch payment on its own as and when the need arises. In order to order material a requisition form has to be filled by the centre. As if not enough, the money budgeted for for an item might be exhausted by another centre sharing the same activity.

Directorate: Mr. Thabiso Masina
Postal Address: P.O. Box 57
Mbabane
Swaziland
Physical Address: Audit Building
Ground Floor
Mbabane
Swaziland
Telephone: 268 2404 1633
Fax
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