A fresh start for rural development and agrarian reform?
MetadataShow full item record
The new cabinet ushered in after the 2009 national elections features new and renamed ministries. Those expected to take the lead in a new initiative to resuscitate the rural economy are the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. While the newfound priority placed on rural development is welcome, its separation from the dynamic subsectors in the rural economy is not. This brief shows how existing policies are bifurcated between BEE models for the better off and welfare for the poor. There is now a danger that the two ministries will replicate the dualism of the so-called ‘first’ and ‘second’ economies – an approach that deepens exclusion from and legitimises exploitation in the economic core, and prevents the creation of a ‘missing middle’ of successful small producers. What is needed instead is rural development that restructures the commercial sectors of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and the exploitative class relations (with workers and small producers) on which they are based, and which breaks down the concentration of capital and market power in few hands. Only then can redistributing land, forests and fishing quotas create new pathways for ‘the rural poor’ to participate, and produce, in these sectors in ways that create livelihoods and jobs, and set South Africa on a different and more appropriate growth path.