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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.

by Jan Theron in 2016

Contrary to a popular narrative which seeks to attribute the country’s economic ills to labour legislation, this paper argues that the role of law in relation to the economy is constitutive, and that labour can also not be considered in isolation from other branches of law in this regard. The regime constituted by labour law has also always had a dual character, in which there are ‘outsiders’ to which certain key provisions - specifically rights to organise and bargain - do not apply. To elaborate this argument, the paper considers the law’s role in structuring employment in the food value chain to show how key provisions of labour legislation, and other laws, fail to take into account how employment is increasingly externalised, and how the number of ‘outsiders’ is growing. The paper also considers the role of worker organisation and collective bargaining, and other regulatory strategies in the food value chain.

by Nick Vink, Johann Kirsten in 2019

The current debate on land reform in South Africa is unnecessarily polarised between those who believe that the market has failed to deliver, and those who believe that the bureaucracy has failed to deliver. Instead, we propose a ‘state-incentivised but private sector-delivered’ land reform that has a first ‘fast-track’ phase of a decade in which rapid land transfer is effected by a joint effort between the state and private actors. This calls for the creation of a virtual land depository and a Land Reform Fund where the private sector provides the bulk of the land and the funds, and these two actors partner with land reform beneficiaries and commercial farmers to create a support environment that allows new farmers the opportunity to establish themselves successfully in the agricultural sector.



by Rick de Satgé, Ben Cousins in 2019
There is widespread agreement that land reform in South Africa is in deep trouble. However, there are very different perspectives on what should be done to address the failure to meaningfully redistribute land and resolve the land question.  
Section 25 of the Constitution requires land redistribution to promote equitable access to land, but progress has been slow and the programme largely ineffective. Budget allocations have been derisory, with only around 0,4% of the annual national budget allocated for land reform as a whole, and around 0.1% for land redistribution (HLP, 2017:50).   
Over time, land redistribution had steadily drifted away from its original pro-poor focus. Concerns about the high levels of project failure and the inability of the state to ensure support for those acquiring land are recurrent themes. Mounting frustrations over unmet demands for secure access to land in rural and urban areas featured prominently in public hearings on a possible amendment to the constitution, called by parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee in 2018. 
How to resolve the land question? What should be done? An ambitious conference held in February 2019 took a close look at how the redistribution of land in rural areas could be re-imagined. It did not aim to reach consensus, and the vigorous debate and contestation that took place helped to clarify the key issues and challenges that policy must grapple with. 
by Phillan Zamchiya in 2019

This Working Paper explains the processes by which land, water and other natural resources were seized, and their previous users dispossessed, for the purposes of capital accumulation by Ivanplats platinum mining company in Limpopo, South Africa. The mining firm largely acquired land through non-voluntary mechanisms by disregarding South Africa’s Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) set to protect the lawful occupiers and users of land. Through detailed empirical examination, I demonstrate how locals in Limpopo experienced dispossession through enclosure of farmland, water sources, grazing fields and cultural shrines, paving the way for accumulation by the mining firm. Beyond productive sources, the mining firm also acquired capital through imposing financial interests on unfair community loans. Corruption, coercion and bribes were useful dispossession tools in a powerful triple alliance of investors, state officials and traditional leaders. This exacerbated the crises of livelihoods for many, especially women, who did not integrate in the new mining wage-labour economy and its entrepreneurial opportunities. I partly agree with scholars who have used some Accumulation by Dispossession (ABD) features to explain this phenomenon. However, it is important to note that dispossession even through economic means and with voluntary consent can also lead to similar dire consequences for the rural poor. In addition, the farmers were not out of capitalist relations of production as implied in the conceptualisation of ABD with its genealogy in primitive accumulation and there was no full rural proletarianisation. Given the nominal welfarist benefits for the locals in this extractivist model of investment, covert, intermediary and overt resistance to land dispossession was rife, though it met with brutal state force making the future unstable and uncertain.