Another countryside? Policy options for land and agrarian reform in South Africa
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Land reform in South Africa is a political project that has foundered. For years, the process has been variously described as being ‘in crisis’, ‘at a crossroads’, ‘at an impasse’ or simply ’stuck’. This still seems as true as ever, as political pressure is mounting to find new solutions to old problems. In recent years, the issue of ‘delivery’, and how to speed it up, has taken centre stage and become a justificatory framework for arguments about how to reconfigure roles of the state and private sector in land reform. In the process, little attention has been given to the relationship between policy change and mobilisation from below. In the absence of sustained and organised pressure from rural people themselves, it appears that the shifts underway in land reform policy are not so much about ‘delivery’ as about reframing the entire project. Increasingly, the debates on land reform centre not so much on the mechanisms to be used, as on the vision that is to be pursued – something about which existing policy is remarkably silent. At stake is nothing less than what, and whom, land reform is for. South Africans are deeply divided on this question.