The collapse of the socialist model at the end of the 1980s triggered many changes in MPLA policies and strategies, although these were not always made explicit. The development of a market economy demands a dynamic entrepreneurial class, and in Angola's case this was to be formed from the military and political elites, who would be the main beneficiaries of a reallocation of state properties. Reallocation implies both privatisation and matching the company size to the technical and managerial abilities of its new owners; this latter component was, however, 'forgotten'.
In the case of the state farms, the absence of an up-to-date land register (the 1975 register is still used) determined that assets would be privatised according to their prior situation and dimensions, even if the land was granted only in terms of rights of use. Half of the total area that constituted the commercial sector during the colonial period had already been distributed to new large landowners by the end of 1999. As the Portuguese had only been able to exploit about 10 per cent of the area at their disposal, and with the new Angolan businessmen still in a very unstable position, it is easy to see how the vast majority of the land granted remains unproductive. This is compounded by the fact that, because of the war, the new 'owners' have only very recently taken over 'their' properties, which have remained occupied in many cases by the nearby population or by former workers.
This privatisation of companies took place before and after the first post-independence Land Bill was passed in 1992. This law has positive aspects concerning the safeguard of rural communities' interests, but still retains the 'dualism' without providing tools to overcome it.
It leaves the conflict between customary laws and formal land tenure unresolved, with the result that, on one hand, community rights are again being ignored (the first ever legal recognition of community land tenure occurred only in 2001, in Tchicala, Huíla) and on the other hand, that certain citizen's rights – such as women's rights to land inheritance – continue to be overshadowed by the aforementioned customary rights.
Moreover, implementation of this legislation was disorganised and lacked transparency, with various consequences: (i) communal lands, which are intended for rural populations (sort of communal 'reservations') continue to await demarcation, making rural families very vulnerable; (ii) title holders are basically MPLA leaders, current and former government members, high-ranking state officials and members of the armed forces and businessmen – in short, all social groups with access to the ruling or developing elite (or at least those who know their way around the relevant institutions), leaving out the disadvantaged and uninformed population and further reinforcing their exclusion; (iii) the land that is granted is usually unproductive, but the titles are not withheld as required by law; (iv) although still embryonic, a land market is developing, which may lead to the impoverishment and growing vulnerability of families; (v) signs of social conflict are emerging due to conflicting interests between the commercial and family sectors; (vi) displaced persons are returning to their areas of origin due to fear of having their lands occupied; (vii) concern is growing among families with land titles, given what they represent in terms of security, as well as gradual understanding of the supremacy of formal land tenure over customary rights.