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PLAAS SEMINAR: Elite capture and emerging patterns of accumulation in land redistribution in South Africa

Venue: PLAAS Boardroom
Date: 5 Mar 2019
Time: 13:00 to 14:00
Presenter: Dr Farai Mtero
Senior Researcher, PLAAS, UWC

This presentation focuses on the growing phenomenon of elite capture in land redistribution in South Africa and analyses land reform outcomes of the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS). PLAS was adopted as the primary programme for redistributing land in 2006 and one of its core features is that land is only leased out to selected beneficiaries while the state retains ownership. The presentation is based on intensive fieldwork in seven selected sites in five provinces, namely Western Cape, Eastern Cape, North West, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal. The ongoing efforts to amend section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa partly address the question of how to speedily acquire land for redistribution. An equally significant issue is the question of who has benefited from South Africa’s redistributive land reform. Evidence from this research reveals that policy biases have tilted the scales in favour of a select group of farmers mostly drawn from local elites with economic and political influence. Alongside the policy biases, elite capture unfolds through corruption and rent-seeking practices whereby powerful individuals and groups capture public resources in land redistribution. As a result, South Africa’s land reform has shifted significantly from its pro-poor precepts espoused in the early years of democracy.


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