Land ownership and land reform in South Africa (AfricaFiles / NGOPulse)

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Summary & Comment: This article focuses on land ownership in South Africa and some facts not widely known. “The first is that the amount of land in black hands is not 13 percent but may be as high as 50 percent. The second is that the 50 percent in white hands is held by South Africa’s food producers and that their numbers are shrinking very quickly as urban markets demand even more cost effective production methods. The third is that any policy that compromises the ability of those farmers to produce food may trigger a series of urban protests that the government may find difficult to control. ” JK

Author: Fran Cronje
Date Written: 7 March 2012
Primary Category: Food and Land
Document Origin: SANGONeT
Secondary Category: Southern Region
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This article focuses on land ownership in South Africa and some of the facts that people, including politicians, have to get correct when commenting around the land issue. Dr Pieter Mulder has courted great controversy with comments that black South Africans have no historical claim to land in the Northern and Western Cape and also that blacks own a greater share of the country’s land than the government admits. His comments come against claims that whites owned 87 percent of South Africa’s land and that little progress has been made in changing this picture. However, some basic arithmetic reveals that a far greater share of the country is in black hands than is often acknowledged. It is also apparent that ensuring the productivity of the portion remaining in white hands is increasingly important to the government in maintaining political stability in urban areas. This has implications for the manner in which future land policy is implemented.



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Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.