Project co-ordinator's perceptions to the implementation of land restitution in KwaZulu-Natal.
Mjamekwana, Pinkie Colleen.
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In 1994 the South African democratic government introduced the Land Reform Programme (LRP), which was aimed at redressing the imbalances of the colonial and apartheid past. The LRP is designed to provide equitable redress to persons and communities that were involuntarily dispossessed of land rights after 19 June 1913, as a result of past racially discriminatory laws and practices. Of the four pillars of the LRP, land restitution is seldom a matter of empirical inquiry. The purpose of this research, inter alia, is to explore the implementation of land claims processing at the KwaZulu-Natal Regional Land Claims Commission (RLCC) from the perspective of project co-ordinators who are front-line researchers and preparers of claim settlement packages for review by the RLCC. The study further inquired into the factors that facilitate or hinder these processes, how the RLCC can assist project co-ordinators to meet target dates, and explored the perceptions of project co-ordinators on the presidentially declared re-opening of the lodgement period for land claims. This qualitative research design entails a case study strategy, is theoretically driven by Lipsky’s (1980) theory of street-level bureaucracy, and is underpinned by the philosophical worldview of social constructivism. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and focus groups of project co-ordinators, along with documentary evidence. The findings show the complexity of land claims processing implementation, the challenges of meeting target dates, and the opportunities that the RLCC could use to assist project co-ordinators who are liaisons between constitutional imperatives and the citizenry. Whilst the re-opening of lodgement of claims advances land restitution, it also contributes to protracted land claim processing delays in light of budgetary constraints and an ineffective performance management system that demotivates project co-ordinators. Recommendations are made as to how implementation processes can be improved, including the reinstatement of the legally mandated autonomy of the National Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights.