Access to land and land ownership for residential and livelihood purposes in the historically disadvantaged areas in Mpumalanga province : a case study of informal settlement in Govan Mbeki Municipality.
Nxumalo, Lindani Ernest.
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It is certainly undeniable that the land question remains an emotive issue across the social and political spectrum in the national and local level of South African government. The legacy of Native Land Act of 1913 which gave effect to ‘legal’ dispossession of land from native black people and apartheid policies and laws left a remarkable fragmentation of spatial development in both rural and urban areas. In the post democratic South Africa, strides were and are still being made to address the social injustice and imbalances of the past policies through land reform programmes and other pieces of legislation. In contrast, a large number of poor black people are still confronted with challenges of access to land and ownership for residential and livelihood purposes in South Africa. In the past two decades South African municipalities have witnessed a mushrooming of informal settlements established through land invasions as a result of, among other things, ever rising population, poverty and immigration to urban areas. The study was conducted in Mpumalanga province with a special case study of Govan Mbeki Municipality’s informal settlements. The main objective of the study was to investigate the obstacles that impede the poor from accessing and owning the land within the municipal jurisdiction. This study adopted both qualitative and quantitative research designs. The exploratory method was used to gather the general insight on the subject. Key participants were identified through the use of convenience sampling which is a non-probability sampling technique. Interviews were conducted and questionnaires were distributed to the selected participants. Collected data was analysed using Statistic Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) which produced tabulations and graphs that made sense of the data and Content data analysis was employed which helped to establish themes from the data. These techniques assisted in understanding the challenges faced by the informal settlements in terms of the role of government with regard to redistribution of land for residential and livelihood purposes. The findings of the study established that the growing population in Govan Mbeki Municipality led to a demand for land for residential. Accessing of residential land by the landless poor people was revealed as a major challenge which resulted in land invasions as means to acquire housing. The ownership of land by private entities such as Sasol and coal mines, were found to be one of the obstacles that impede the land redistribution programme in the municipal area. Most of the surface lands were found not to be compatible for settlements due to underground mining operations. Land is accessed through obtaining low cost housing and bidding for stands when they become available at the municipality. Given the fact that a number of them are poor, they found themselves excluded and the allocation of low cost houses move at a slow pace.