Grond as ruimte van politieke stryd in Suid-Afrika

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 2
  • SDG 1
  • Abstract:

    The so-called “land question” is a well known theme in South African political discourse. Much has been written on the subject in recent times, but also in the historical development of South African politics. This article articulates thoughts concerning the political meaning of land by way of framing the land question as a space of political contestation in South Africa, simultaneously discussing it against a wider international background, acknowledging that the land question is not unique to South Africa and that it also relates to many historical and contemporary political struggles. It is suggested that such an approach possibly may contribute to contextualise the matter and to shed some of the emotional baggage that often pertains to it. The article contextualises land as political contestation while suggesting an interpretation of what politics is. Attention is afforded to the understanding of politics as conflict, but also as reconciliation and compromise against an underlying context of power and its purposes. The latter determining in what kind of country political actors would want to live and relating to interests and values that political actors hold in common. The possibility exists that if reconciliation and compromise are not possible, politics will come to an end, which will not contribute to a sustainable democracy or a solution to the land question. The broader conflicting nature of positions and understandings of the land question in South Africa is further highlighted within the context of political contestation, after which attention is afforded to the positioning of political actors within this contestation.The position of the government and political parties is highlighted within this conflict based framework, noting the different understandings of the land question as well as the commonalities that parties share. Reference is briefly made to non party political actors (formal and informal) which represents the same conflictual positions, but which also alludes to other factors relevant to the land question whereafter these factors are highlighted. These include the broader social and economical issues (which are also understood as political), as well as an agricultural and rural bias in the land question, while it is also a matter of political and socio-economic rights within an urban context. The question is also asked whether solutions to the land question should not be found in a forward looking manner, rather than a romanticised understanding of land. The article concludes with a discussion in regard to the land question, when it is viewed from the perspective of political contestation, as defined in this article, as well as considering the possible outcome of the land question. A suggestion is made that consideration could be given to a re-negotiation of this space of political contestation, as land reform will remain unsuccessful if the politics thereof is not addressed; although this would also entail its own dangers for a democratic South Africa where democracy is not yet fully consolidated. OPSOMMING: Grond en die sogenaamde “grondvraagstuk” is ’n welbekende tema in die Suid-Afrikaanse politieke diskoers. Heelwat is reeds hieroor geskryf in die hedendaagse tydsgewrig, maar ook in die historiese verloop van die Suid-Afrikaanse politiek. Hierdie artikel artikuleer gedagtes rondom die betekenis van grond as politieke stryd (en ook binne die konteks van ’n bepaalde begrip van politiek) in Suid-Afrika, maar plaas dit ook teen ’n wyer internasionale doek. Moontlik kan so ’n benadering bydra om die saak te kontekstualiseer en te ontdaan van die emosionele bagasie wat dikwels daarmee gepaardgaan. Die benadering van die artikel is dat grond as politieke stryd hanteer word, waarna aandag geskenk word aan hoe politieke akteurs hulself posisioneer binne hierdie stryd. Daar word ook kortliks verwys na ander faktore wat ’n rol speel in hierdie politieke stryd. Die artikel sluit af met ’n gevolgtrekking ten opsigte van die grondvraagstuk, wanneer dit vanuit die perspektief van politieke stryd, soos in hierdie artikel omskryf, beskou word en die moontlike uitkoms van die grondvraagstuk oorweeg word.