Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

'Human rights' or 'property'? State, society, and the landless in South Africa

By Deborah James

Abstract

This paper explores the interlocking – but sometimes contradictory - efforts of NGOs and the state to safeguard the rights of those who have no land. "The landless" in South Africa, categorised along with "the poor and the dispossessed" by those who advocate their cause in the NGO sector, have come to occupy a contested position. As government policy has come increasingly to favour those who are structurally counterposed to “the landless” - the better-off who are potential commercial farmers - so NGO efforts have been directed, correspondingly, to safeguard the interests of this apparently large, but bewilderingly heterogenous, category. While those in this sector are agreed on the importance of helping "the landless, the poor and the dispossessed" by providing them with access to protected land rights, there has been disagreement over where the members of this category are to be found, and how their security can be best safeguarded. Countering the position that this is best achieved through "tenure reform" in the former homelands, some argue, for example, that those most in need of security are the labourers on white farms, whose residence rights are tied to their employment and for whom dismissal would mean instant homelessness. Recent "land invasions", such as the one at Bredell near Johannesburg, are also incorporated into the discursive universe of "landlessness" although their protagonists appear to belong to a further category: urban-based squatters seeking access to land without the payment of rent or services. This paper highlights the complex interlocking rhetorics emanating from, and protecting the rights of, these different constituencies, as they converged at the recent "Landlessness equals Racism" conference which was held alongside last year’s UN conference on Racism

Topics: GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Publisher: Human Rights Institute
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.lse.ac.uk:1028
Provided by: LSE Research Online

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. (1997). (nd) An evaluation of the reform of farm workers’ security of tenure rights under the extension of security of tenure act,
  2. (1998). 12 Andries Gouws of Fundile Afrika,
  3. (2000). 2000 “The impact of land reform policy in the Northern Province” in Cousins,
  4. (2002). 6 This has been a pattern in respect of other matters such as health and education as well as land (see James
  5. (2000). A doi
  6. (1993). A Jeeves doi
  7. (1992). Black Mountain: land, class and power in the eastern Orange Free State 1880s-1980s, doi
  8. (1996). Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism. doi
  9. (2000). Consulting Service,
  10. (2000). Consulting Services, doi
  11. (2000). Defining a civic agenda: citizenship and gender equality in post-apartheid education”
  12. (1997). Doing Good: The politics and antipolitics doi
  13. (2000). Introduction: does land reform have a future and, if so, who will benefit?”
  14. (2001). Land reform in South Africa: is it meeting the challenge?” Policy Brief, Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies, doi
  15. (1996). Land Reform in the Eastern Free State: Policy Dilemmas and Political Conflicts” doi
  16. (2000). Land rights and local decision making processes: proposals for tenure reform”
  17. (2000). Land tenure and Economic Development in Rural South Africa: Constraints and Opportunities”
  18. (2001). Lawyers and land reform in South Africa: a review of the land, housing and development work of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC)” (unpublished report)
  19. (2000). not race, behind Dolny’s departure’ Howard Barrell,
  20. (2000). Policies and Politics: land reform in South Africa in comparative and historical perspective, doi
  21. (2000). Restless Identities: signatures of Nationalism, doi
  22. (1998). Seeing like a state : how certain schemes to improve the human condition have failed, doi
  23. (1996). South Africa’s Agrarian Question: extreme and exceptional?” doi
  24. South Consulting Service, doi
  25. (2001). st August. Tony worked in the Department’s Commission for the Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR).
  26. (1993). The Land question’ doi
  27. (1996). The seed is mine : the life of Kas Maine, a South African sharecropper, 1894-1985, Cape Town, doi
  28. (2002). To take the information down to the people’: HIV/AIDS peereducators in Durban” African Studies (in press). _____2001 “Land for the Landless: Conflicting images of rural and urban in South Africa’s land reform programme”
  29. (1994). Twentieth Century South Africa Oxford, doi
  30. (2001). What land reform has meant and could mean to farm workers in South Africa” paper presented at conference on Land Reform and Poverty Alleviation in

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.