Political-economy of land governance in a democratic South Africa : private interests vis-à-vis rural communities in tribal settlements

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

    Under the nuance environment of a shift from government to governance, the liberationist-democratic dispensation together with the constitutional guarantees of property ownership meant that multiple actors, inclusive of private commercial interests, would partake in the land reform processes. As a result, large tracks of land that previously produced crops for food were turned into nature reserves in order to escape the anticipated reforms as part of the protected areas under the United Nations conventions, thereby undermining the possibility of rural communities in tribal settlements accessing productive arable lands. In essence, there is evidence that the construct of governance under South Africa’s democratic experimentation is steeply infused with the virtues of private rather than public ownership as well as contestations of efficacy at the expense of public good of formerly disadvantaged tribal settlement communities. To that extent, the dearth of governance of communal land is central to the lapse of its productivity relative to that contracted to private commercial interests. This article corroborates the notion that the broader political-economy of governance is inherently biased against poor communities at the local scale of rural tribal settlements. The states experimenting with democratic dispensation, following years of colonialism and apartheid such as South Africa, have inevitably appeared to collude in establishing liberal constitutional and institutional frameworks that favour the private interests at the expense of the general citizenry. This article argues, instead, that a democratic South Africa’s land reform institutional frameworks together with the liberationist constitutional governance have accentuated, let alone papering over, the longstanding politicale-conomy inequities that were founded of racial spatialisation.