A new book titled Rights to Land: A Guide to Tenure Upgrading and Restitution in South Africa, by William Beinart, Peter Delius and Michelle Hay, is out now from Jacana Media and Good Governance Africa.
Land restitution, initiated in 1994, was an important response to the injustices of the apartheid era. But it was intended as a limited and short-term process – initially to be completed in five years. It may continue for decades, creating uncertainty and undermining investment into agriculture.
The authors provide an analysis of what went so badly wrong, and warn that a new phase of restitution may ignite conflicting ethnic claims and facilitate elite capture of land and rural resources. While there are no quick fixes, the first phase of restitution should be completed and the policy then curtailed. Land reform urgently needs to prioritise employment creation, production and economic growth.