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PLAAS Working Paper 58: How can we promote a range of livelihood opportunities through land redistribution?

by Michael Aliber in 2019

13  March

This position paper sketches an approach to improving land redistribution in South Africa in which the broad aim is to use redistribution to create a range of livelihood opportunities, in meaningful numbers, in proportion to the understood need. The approach laid out in the paper is informed first and foremost by a reflection on South Africa’s land reform to date, which among other things requires contemplation of the respective strengths and limitations of government and other role-players, and market-based versus other mechanisms. The main argument is that government can and must play an active role to ensure that land reform caters to the demand for small farms on which to create opportunities for commercially-oriented smallholders, and for small plots for those whose primary need is tenure and food security. Somewhat different mechanisms can serve the interests of those seeking help through land reform to expand into large-scale farming. The paper illustrates/estimates how these diverse needs could be addressed in a balanced manner, and met in significant numbers given a larger budget for land redistribution, which is not unimaginable given the current budget’s negligible size.