Key Points:

  • Land reform needs to make its beneficiaries and the country better off. Little is gained in the long run if justice turns out to be purely symbolic, leaves people poorer, or even aggravates grievances.
  • It is therefore concerning that in 2008 at least 50% of government land reform projects had failed to make their beneficiaries permanently better off.
  • Land reform in South Africa is at a crossroads. The future of South African commercial agriculture is now on the table. This in turn means that the economic viability of many rural regions of the country is under threat, and that there could be serious negative spillover effects into the broader economy and society.
  • The country should immediately establish a talented, action-oriented partnership that will report every six months to Parliament on progress with respect to land issues. This partnership should consist of senior leaders in government, the ruling party, and the private sector.
  • South Africa has the resources to negotiate and sustain a successful programme of land reform, but bold leadership in the public and private sectors are necessary to get land reform back on track.