Post-settlement land reform objectives in South Africa : towards a management model for sustainable development
Van der Elst, Herman Jacobus
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As one of the mechanisms to achieve its national policy objective of separate development (apartheid), the previous South African Government (up to 1994) reserved specific areas for white people and homelands or so-called townships in the vicinity of industrial centres for black people. This entailed that people were deliberately separated and settled in specific areas according to race and tribal origins. The practical outcome was, for example, that Tswana speaking people had to permanently reside in Bophuthatswana, Xhosa speaking people in the Transkei or the Ciskei, Venda speaking people in Venda and so forth. Black people did not have political rights in white areas and were expected to exercise their rights within the boundaries of their designated homeland. In order to achieve and sustain this categorised separation, people were by law forced to relocate and their land was either utilised for development purposes, or for the resettlement of another ethnic group of people. During the apartheid years the relocation of people and the expropriation of land were conducted on a significant scale. It is estimated that approximately 3.5 million people lost their land involving millions of hectares. People were in most cases relocated to designated homelands as identified and reserved by the previous Government. Many black people not only lost land but established farmers were unable to utilise and further develop their existing agricultural skills. The reason for this was that they had to resettle in other, and in many instances, urban locations. Over the years the practice of expropriation and relocation gave rise to the current skewed pattern of land ownership where white commercial farmers presently still own approximately two thirds of all arable land. A well documented consequence of apartheid during the timeframe 1948 to 1994 was neglected service delivery to specifically the black population. In its 1994 election manifesto the African National Congress (ANC) undertook, if elected, to ensure effective service delivery through newly established specialist Government departments to previously disadvantaged individuals and communities. It is against the background of this objective that the national Department of Land Affairs (DLA) was also established and that land reform as a specialist service delivery activity was institutionalised. In short, land reform in South Africa currently entails a programme for the return of expropriated land to the original owners, ensuring access to land for all, and the provision of post-settlement support to the beneficiaries of that programme. In this research it is argued that since 1994, Government has been effective in institutionalising formal structures through which land could be returned to its previous owners. Government was furthermore also effective in making land more accessible to formally disadvantaged individuals and communities. There are numerous examples where land was returned to people and where communities were re-settled on land. The contribution of this research centres on the acknowledgement that Government has thus far been ineffective in the provision or facilitation of post-settlement support to the beneficiaries of land reform. In other words, the beneficiaries of land reform are in most instances unable to utilise returned land to its full potential, and in a sustainable way. This entails that poverty and underdevelopment are still at the order of the day after land was returned to the rightful owners. This underutilisation, underdevelopment and continued poverty can be attributed to the absence of an effective Government post-settlement support management model. The research therefore studies the content of the land reform programme. The focus is, however, narrowed down to the shortcomings of the programme with specific reference to the management of post-settlement support since 1994. Through this analysis it was possible to identify relevant elements and propose a management model for more effective provision of post-settlement support. It is envisaged in this study that the return of land to previous owners, ensuring access to land for all, combined with the provision of effective post-settlement support, can make a valuable contribution towards ensuring sustainable development as outcome of land reform in South Africa.
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