Expectations and the issue of land in South Africa – the historical origins and current debate
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Land remains a contentious political issue that has the potential for further conflict in South Africa. Expectations over land are a legitimate result of a history of dispossession, displacement and deprivation during the pre-colonial, colonial and Apartheid eras. The importance of placing discussions on land within a historical context is salient. Legitimate perceptions around the slow pace of sustainable land reform since 1994 have left a vacuum for politicians to continue to use the land issue as tool for political mobilisation. However, development programmes that are meant to deliver on the expectations such as the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP) are often undermined by the same politicians. The ideological divisions between the NDR and the NDP/NGP within the ruling African National Congress-run (ANC) government hamper progress towards achieving the land redistribution objectives outlined in these development plans and programmes. The dilemma that this creates is that factors required to mitigate this problem such as an emphasis on sustainability of redistributed land for increased food security have fallen victim to this ideological tug-of-war. The widening gap between the politically fuelled expectations trajectory on the one hand, and the inability to meet these expectations by current development programmes on the other, are sources of increasing social conflict in society.