South Africa: Book Review - Finding Common Ground On Land Reform After Covid-19

book review

'Finding Common Ground', a book by agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo, is a useful collection of previously published work that paints a portrait of the state of South African land reform and the farming sector. One thing that struck this reviewer was the litany of missed opportunities and bungling that have set the land reform process back. The Covid-19 pandemic will set reform back even further while fuelling social tensions around it.

Collections of previously published essays do not always work, but they do in this case. Sihlobo, the chief economist at Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa (Agbiz) who has also served as a member of President Cyril Ramaphosa's Advisory Panel on land reform, has done a great service by bringing this readable anthology into one book -- a "harvest" as he says in his conclusion. It will be an essential resource for anyone interested in South Africa's crucial farming sector and the challenges that it faces.

This reviewer was especially taken with the articles/essays in the first and longest section, detailing South Africa's efforts at land reform, the aims of which include rectifying the racial imbalances of ownership that are the legacy of apartheid and colonialism. This has included...

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