Gaining Ground

Rights and Property in South African Land Reform
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Dimensions and Pages: 234 x 156mm, 304pp
  • EAN: 9781868144433
  • Recommended Price (ZAR): 270.00

Mugabe’s policy of land seizures in Zimbabwe raised concerns in South Africa. Would the same thing happen ther given that some politicians signalled support for these actions? Teh Soputh African Press reported attcahs on white far,ers in remote areas; they in turn formed vigilate groups which directed violence against African farm-dwellers.  Land reform first caotured, but then served to dissapoint popular expectations aroused by South Africa’s first democratic election. The ANC knows that its supporters expect large white farms to be divided up among poor blacks, but also that incautious initaiatived could destabilise teh economy and exacerbate racial tensions. Set amidst these conflicts,  Gaining Ground? shows how land reform policy and practise in post-apartheid South Africa have been produced  and contested.

Set in the province of Mpumalanga, the book  gives an ethnographic account of local initiatives and conflicts, showing how the poorest sectors of the landless have defied the South African state’s attempts to privatize land holdings and create a new class of African farmers. They insist that the ‘rights-based’ rather than the ‘market-driven’ version of land reform should prevail and that land restitution was intended to benefit all Africans. However, their attempts to gain land access often backfire. Despite state assurances that land reform would benefit all, illegal land selling and ‘brokering’ are pervasive, representing one of the only feasible routes to land access by the poor.

Deborah James is Reader in the Department of Anthropology

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