Land Reform & the Rekindling of Land Conflicts in South Africa: Rural Women’s Access to Land


Andrew, Nancy. 2007. “Land Reform & the Rekindling of Land Conflicts in South Africa: Rural Women’s Access to Land." In Conflicts Over Land & Water in Africa, edited by William Derman, Rie Odgaard, and Espen Sjaastad, Chapter 7. Oxford: James Currey.

Author: Nancy Andrew


This is an examination of the broader context for the re-emergence of land reform and resource conflicts in Africa. Efforts to change the race based systems of land ownership and land tenure in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have pushed land issues to the forefront of social and economic discourses in Africa. This collection examines the broader context for the re- emergence of land reform and resource conflicts.

The case studies examine the links between identity maintenance, tenurial changes, state intervention, and forms and modes of conflict. The authors emphasize the need for a deeper understanding of local histories, cultures, and motivations if efforts to attain a more just distribution of resources are to succeed. The book contributes to a field that has been developing rapidly in the decade since the publication of Melissa Leach and Robin Mearns' collection The Lie of the Land and Mahmood Mamdani's Citizen and Subject.Those two books started a wide ranging discussion of the political reasons for failed development in Africa, as well as the environmental and natural resource dimensions of that failure. (Google Books)


Chapter review: Anc’s land reform program targeted landless farm laborers, but only wealthier blacks are able to buy land from whites as the 1984 Constitution ruled out expropriation of white holdings.Despite plans to redistribute 30% of dispossessed agricultural land in five years, the restitution program was closed in 1998—after processing 70.000 claims for 20% of rural land.55% of 20 million blacks are women heading more than 50% households, producing 60% of food consumed in rural areas and providing 80% of farm labor.Food security is a major issue, but men’s and women’s perceptions how to attain it are different.Women aim at stabilizing food expenditures and producing small surpluses.Women need husband’s consent for business decisions, despite recent laws allowing females to become land owners, still meet resistance in application.As land reform is to operate through the market, only land owners willing to sell will do so.The restitution program covered only 1% of all commercial farm land and reached only 4% of female-headed households, creating a huge credibility gap between official discourse and reality.Women are twice excluded from productive land, as blacks and as women. (Massing)

Topics: Economies, Economic Inequality, Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equality/Inequality, Land Tenure, Households, Justice, Reparations, Livelihoods, Race, Rights, Land Rights, Women's Rights

Year: 2007

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