South Africa: We Need a New Political Economy of Land Reform, Not Farms Without Farmers and Farmers Without Farms


Many were optimistic that the liberation struggle would lead to the nationalisation of land, but any radical intent was quelled with the adoption of a liberal Constitution in 1996, which entrenched property rights. The failure of existing land policies and land struggles are clearly illustrated by illegal land occupations, rising evictions, murders and violence on farms, and failed farm projects.

Dr Adeoye O Akinola is head of research and teaching at the University of Johannesburg's Institute for Pan-African Thought and Conversation.

How has land reform impacted on the state, economy, and society? Without doubt, the unresolved land question has put pressure on the state to develop a populist and radical approach to land reform as a matter of urgency, while the uncertainty around expropriation without compensation (EWC) has stunted investment and growth of the land and agricultural sectors.

Furthermore, South African society remains sharply divided between the minority -- the owners of capital such as land -- and the black majority, who constitute the landless and historically dispossessed, thereby reinforcing farm conflict and murders along racial lines. Land disputes resulted from the Natives Land Act of 1913, which dispossessed Africans of 93% of their land, and EWC has come to...

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