Key Points:

  • Any meaningful discussion on land reform in South Africa has to start by recognizing that those who were dispossessed by apartheid have a right to justice.
  • Equally important, it must be recognized that the democratic government has already done much through its land reform programme to rectify the injustices of the past.
  • 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 of considerable concern that, as the Director-General of Land Affairs said in early 2008, at least 50% of government land reform projects have failed to make their beneficiaries permanently better off.
  • There is a great deal of empirical evidence to show that the private sector and markets make major contributions to South Africa’s development in general and to land reform in particular.
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