Land reform: lessons from a southeastern Free State experience

  • C van der Westhuizen School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Central University of Technology, Free State, Private Bag X20539, Bloemfontein, 9300, RSA


Before the first democratic general election in South Africa in 1994, most (87%) of the agricultural land was owned by government, big companies and commercial white farmers. After the elections, land reform gained a central place in the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP), which envisioned the transfer of 30% of the land to emerging black farmers within five years. Since 1994 the application of land reform measures were applied in many ways while land redistribution targets were also significantly adapted. One of the ways for the distribution of land was the allocation of land to groups of people. A research project was completed to assess various factors in this regard e.g. organizational framework, management structures, financial resources and usage, and socio-economic benefits. The study revealed inadequate natural resources to be the main limitation for success as well as other problems such as a lack of common property management, lack of institutional support, and lack of gender participation. The study also confirms the need for a new constructive process so as to allow groups as well as individuals to participate in the development process. It is obvious from the study that the finalization of the process of review and restructuring of land reform will not be achieved without problems. To ensure a smooth process, not only will the participation of all parties involved be necessary, but substantial inputs from relevant government departments will also be required. An integrated development approach in land reform will be needed, based on efficient land evaluation and on well-structured, controlled and strategic land reform programmes whereby social, economic and institutional capacity building are incorporated into a holistic development process.

Keywords: land reform, natural resources, institutional support, Free State

South African Journal of Agricultural Extension Vol. 34(1) 2005: 1-18

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2413-3221
print ISSN: 0301-603X