The crisis of land in South Africa

Fred Hendricks (Rhodes University)
Lungisile Ntsebeza (University of Cape Town)
Economy and Development
50 George Square, G.05
Wednesday 12 June, 8:45-10:30

Short abstract:

The land question in South Africa remains unresolved, and this panels seeks a way out of this impasse. The apartheid and colonially inherited racialized division of the land has not been transformed and the land reform policies of the democratic state have been woefully inadequate.

Long abstract:

We invite papers addressing questions of land in five types of areas: (i) urban land - where the land question is essentially a question of housing; (ii) rural land under commercial agriculture - not only is there a real need to deracialise ownership of commercial farms, there is also an urgent need to address the ongoing oppressive labour conditions for farmworkers; (iii) the former reserves, rural land under communal tenure - the land tenure of residents of these areas remains insecure, and much of the available arable land is un- or underutilised. There is a desperate need for more security of tenure in the context of traditional leadership; (iv) church land - it is well known that churches, especially the Catholic and Anglican churches own large tracts of land across the country. (v) state land - about 20% of the land surface in South Africa is owned by the government, often contrary to the interests of local residents. In each of these areas there is an ongoing racialized pattern of access to and ownership of land and our efforts therefore have to concentrate on the most effective manner of moving towards a more equitable redistribution of the land. This panel hopes to promote discussion and debate around strategies for dealing with the crisis of land in any of these areas in South Africa, while simultaneously emphasising the connections between them in a coherent manner and keeping in mind the overarching land question in the country as a whole.