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Abstract

This article assesses the achievement of land reform in South Africa with respect to the number of beneficiaries relative to rural employment and the demand for land and increases in livelihoods and agricultural output. Even though there are islands of success, for the past twenty years the Land Reform Programme has not satisfied these criteria. Implementation has been poor and farm workers’ and farm dwellers’ rights have not been protected. This failure is primarily attributed to the use of group or co-operative farming; inadequate participation by the beneficiaries; the absence, late arrival or poor quality of post-settlement support; and capacity problems in the civil service. Success requires radical change in design and implementation. A reformed programme should be based primarily on family farmer models, from the provision of housing and gardens for supplementary food production to small commercially oriented family farms, and on intensive participation of the beneficiaries or their groups in the identification, planning, implementation and financial management of their projects. This will allow civil servants to focus on the identification of land to be acquired, the approval of land acquisition and investment plans, and the supervision of financial management and implementation of the projects, thereby relieving their capacity constraints. Before scaling up these approaches they should be tested in pilots on a significant scale, sponsored by any group with the required commitment and capabilities. Pilots should be evaluated independently, based on the number of livelihoods created, household food security and agricultural production.

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