Land redistribution in KwaZulu-Natal : an analysis of farmland transactions from 1997 until 2002.
Apartheid and colonialism left deep imprints on contemporary South African society. Nowhere are these more compellingly apparent than in the highly skewed distribution of land between whites and blacks. At the beginning of the 1990' s, it was estimated that 12 million black people lived on only 17.1 million hectares of land, whilst 60,000 white commercial farmers occupied 86.2 million hectares. Since democratisation in 1994 various modes of land redistribution have emerged in South Africa to redistribute farmland to previously disadvantaged people. In 1994, an African National Congress (ANC)-led government initiated a land redistribution programme by offering Settlement/Land Acquisition Grants (SLAG) to previously disadvantaged South Africans to purchase formerly white-owned farms on a willing buyer-willing seller basis. The aim of SLAG was to redistribute 30 per cent of the country's commercial farmland to previously disadvantaged South Africans within five years. However, by the end of the first five years less than two per cent of white-owned farmland was transferred to previously disadvantaged South Africans. Government responded by introducing a new grant programme, the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) programme in August 2001 with a less ambitious objective of transferring 30 per cent of white-owned farmland to previously disadvantaged South Africans over 15 years (i.e. two percent per annum). In addition to the government's land redistribution programme, private and semi-private initiatives have emerged to redistribute farmland to previously disadvantaged people. The BASIS Collaborative Research Support Programme sponsored by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has monitored government (SLAG) and private farmland transactions in the province of KwaZulu-Natal since 1997. This study builds on these previous analyses of farmland transactions by comparing the performance of LRAD relative to private transactions in transferring farmland to previously disadvantaged South Africans during 2002, and contrasts the results with those from years 1997 to 2001. Results from the study indicate that the launch of LRAD in 2001 had a significant impact on land redistribution in 2002. In KwaZulu-Natal, the rate of land redistribution doubled from 0.5 per cent in 2001 to one percent in 2002. The results also show that LRAD has not only succeeded in drawing private resources into the land reform process, but has also been more successful in targeting women than the earlier SLAG programme. Findings further show that unlike the earlier (SLAG) programme, LRAD offers larger grants to wealthier and more-creditworthy beneficiaries and is therefore conducive to establishing farms owned and operated by individuals or by small groups of individuals. A small area (1,454 hectares) was transferred back to previously advantaged owners in 2002. Such transactions were not detected before 2002 and should be monitored to identify the underlining reasons for these sales. It is also recommended that research should be conducted to ascertain whether improvements in the rate of land redistribution in KwaZulu-Natal during 2002 will be sustained in the future.