IFAA Forum Report: The Impact of Land Redistribution on Beneficiaries

On the  13th of April Nonzuzo Mbokazi, a PhD candidate in sociology at the University of Cape Town, presented an IFAA Forum on Land Redistribution in South. The focus of the forum was specifically on the impact on beneficiaries of land redistribution programmes with emphasis on the post Proactive Land Redistribution Strategy (PLAS).

Before speaking on the specifics of the PLAS programme’s impact, Nonzuzo first contextualised the Land Redistribution debate by offering an account of land dispossession through colonial conquest and Apartheid era oppression. Following this the speaker offered an account of the first two major land redistribution policies in South Africa, namely Settlement Land Acquisition Grant (SLAG) and Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD). SLAG, introduced by then minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs, was focused on redistribution and had no emphasis on “productivity”. This however changed under the leadership of Thoko Didiza beginning in 1999 with the introduction of LRAD. The policy was in line with the World Bank position on Land Redistribution particularly with the emphasis on private titling and agricultural “productivity”. This was identified as being part of the neoliberal paradigm of market orientated solutions

Moving from this the speaker highlighted the marginalisation of current and prospective beneficiaries of land redistribution in the land reform debate, instead the conversation has been dominated by NGOs. This has largely been as a result of the lack of formal originations of these groupings. An even when the beneficiaries/potential beneficiaries of these programmes are afforded the chance to contribute their recommendations are seldom taken into account.

The critique of PLAS was centred on three core issues. The first is that through the State Land Lease and Disposal Policy (SLDP) it privileged large scale farmers over small scale farmers. Secondly the Recapitalisation and Development Programme  Policy (RDPP) has been structured in such a way as to develop a perpetual dependency on the state to the point where if the state where to end the policy these emerging farmers would no longer be able to compete on the markets. Thirdly through the Agricultural Landholding Policy Framework (ALPF), the state’s attempts at fertilising relationships between small scale farmers and large scale farmers have resulted in less mentorship and more servitude. The emerging farmers often find themselves dominated by the dominant farmers.

In concluding the speaker highlighted the necessity of acknowledging the experiences of beneficiaries and intended beneficiaries of land reform projects.  Failing to do so will result in a continuation of the failed top down, market driven policy formulation we’ve seen over the past 20 years.

You can listen to a recording of the Forum here