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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
Print version ISSN 0041-4751


VAN DER ELST, Herman. The move away from a moderate to a radical land redistribution approach as transformation priority in South Africa. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2017, vol.57, n.4, pp.955-970. ISSN 2224-7912.

A key reason for the establishment of the African National Congress (ANC) in 1912 was ensuring and securing access to land for the landless masses. Since then land redistribution remained key concepts in the ANC's policy vocabulary. This importance of redistribution and access to land was also emphasized in the 1955 Freedom Charter of the movement, and again in the 1994 ANC election manifesto. In 2017 the objective of access to land and redistribution has however not yet been realised. A contemporary priority concept that is therefore frequently linked to the notion of radical socio-economic transformation in South Africa (SA) is the call for accelerated land redistribution towards black economic empowerment. In this respect there is consensus amongst most academics and opinion formers, that land reform with a specific emphasis on the pace of redistribution is slow and does not necessarily benefit the previously disadvantaged masses. It is argued from different angles that government has, up to now, followed a moderate approach to land redistribution. This moderate approach contributed to a large extent to the current slow pace of land redistribution. In line with calls for radical economic transformation the SA government is currently under pressure to move away from this moderate school of thought to a more radical land redistribution approach. It is the purpose of this article to analyse the reasons for this moderate approach and contrast it with the elements of the evolving more radical policy and implementation approach. In effect the following question is being addressed: What is die rationale behind the current moderate government approach to land redistribution and which factors and elements will have an influence on the evolving radical approach? In order to answer the above question the article will be divided into three levels. On a macro level, and as contextual background, the focus briefly falls on the origins and nature of the contemporary moderate approach to land redistribution and the meaning of socio-economic transformation as a development objective. On a micro level the article will be narrowed down to the transformation pressure that the SA government is currently experiencing and the now familiar, nature and scope of land expropriation during the apartheid timeframe as well as redistribution progress that has been made since 1994. Against this background emphasis is placed on land redistribution as a contemporary transformation priority in SA. On the application level the article is comparatively narrowed down to the move away from a moderate school of thought to the causal factors that led to the evolving more radical approach to land redistribution. In conclusion possible key elements that will influence the unfolding of the more radical approach are identified, highlighted and analysed. In the final analysis the aim is therefore to provide a predictive scenario analysis that points towards the consequences and unfolding of the mind shift to this more radicalised approach to land redistribution.

Keywords : Policy; Land redistribution; Washington consensus; Slow progress; moderate approach; radical socio-economic transformation; radical approach; Custodian; Constitution.

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