Land restitution and poverty alleviation in KwaZulu-Natal: the case of Hlomendlini Community.
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Unequal land access and poverty skewed along racial lines remains one of the major legacies of colonialism and apartheid in South Africa. Massive poverty amongst the black South African population in particular is associated with their landlessness dating back to the colonial past. The democratic government rolled out a land access programme to restitute the victims of past injudicious laws. Amongst other objectives, this programme aims to improve household welfare and alleviate poverty. The nexus between land access and poverty reduction has become the dominant narrative amongst politicians, some scholars and policy-makers. This study seeks to interrogate the popular notion dominating the South African land discourse that access to land will reduce poverty amongst the poorest of the poor. To achieve its aim, the study adopted qualitative methods using a case study approach which was better suited given the complex nature of the study. Using snowball sampling to identify participants, I used semi-structured interviews, observations, secondary materials and transect walks to conduct the research. The study found that land access was biased towards old people and males in particular. The government imposed its own preferred land use plans on new landowners in order to sustain the previous large-scale commercial model, despite the limited number of hectares of land shared by a large number of beneficiaries. Post-settlement was inadequate as land claimants face numerous challenges such as delayed grant funding, a lack of institutional support, corruption, a lack of equipment and difficult co-management arrangements with white strategic partners. The study found that contestations from within and outside the community have pushed them to the brink of collapse. The major finding of the study is that since taking ownership of the land, there are no durable material and psychological benefits that have been derived by new land entrants to alleviate their poverty, largely caused by their loss of land due to dispossession.