Workshop Presentation Outline

Redistributive Land Reform and Elite Land Accumulation in South Africa1
Presentation Outline
The land transfer target adopted in the 1990s looms large in policy and academic debates in South
Africa. The majority party in government campaigned for the transfer of 30% of white owned land to the
black majority. This redistributive land reform target features as a key reference point in the National
Development Plan Vision 2030, a macroeconomic framework which sets out strategies for future socioeconomic transformation. These policies, especially those articulated in terms of building a
developmental state, make an implicit connection between altering patterns of land distribution and
economic development raising the living standards of the majority.
It also is worth noting that the land transfer target is etched in terms of race but does not explicitly deal
with the class character of land acquisition. Basic questions like, “Who is acquiring what land? How?”,
are difficult to answer from heated land ownership debates and available evidence. It is not easy to
distinguish between reality and rhetoric surrounding land policies.
In an effort to overcome these information gaps, this presentation begins to interrogate salient features
of emerging landholding patterns intimately connected with roughly two decades of redistributive land
reforms. One standout aspect of the South African experience has been the accumulation of land by the
new black elite despite political commitments to pro-poor land redistribution and reversing past
Outline – main points
Introduction – why is SA’s land ownership debate still so popular?
Status of Land ownership policy questions: land reform green paper- 4 tier land ownership regime;
50/50 farmworkers and commercial farmland; land ceilings; expropriation and nationalization;
Land and primitive accumulation - Historical issue of land dispossession – “The Native Question”
debate of the 1930s - economic rationale for land dispossession; the articulation debate and
primitive accumulation
Examples of ‘elite land accumulation’ today:
 Class of established and aspirant commercial African farmers: what do we know about NAFU;
 How does Customary Rule support elite accumulation: traditional leaders’ control over land;
 Landholdings of New Elite – high-profile politicians; strong and deep political party
Concluding remarks and comments
Peter T Jacobs- HSRC, Cape Town. Towards an outline for a proposal on “elite land accumulation in postapartheid South Africa”. Presented at Arrighi Center Workshop, 23-37 March 2015, JHU Baltimore.