The Politics and Economics of Land Redistribution

Mngobi Ngubane, a land and agrarian PHD student from PLAAS at the University of the Western Cape, presented “the politics and economic of land redistribution” in which he discussed his research on the impacts of land reform on the livelihoods of small-scale farmers. Via an ethnography study of farms in the eastern Free State Ngubane’s focuses on the everyday contradictions and problems of the current land distribution model in South Africa, especially when it comes to state support on land reforms farms. Ngubane stresses that the current land public debates do not involve the concerns of the individuals living a rural context.

“People in urban areas don’t have their heads in the rural space.” Ngubane believes that we need to redirect our attention to farms that have been redistribution and the failures and success of these farms and their production.

There is a need for grounded and realistic state support that is divorced from populist or political agendas. The needs of black farmers can be best articulated by the black farmers themselves based on everyday struggles with markets and realities on the farms, such as lack of capital for infrastructure. Ngubane cites Prof. Johann Kirsten, HOD at the Department of Agricultural Economics (University of Pretoria), who observed that one of the main challenges for black commercial farmers is the lack of access to fund to cover production cost and to invest in infrastructure.

One of the biggest challenges that these small-scale farmer face is the state support is unfairly distributed and that affluent and politically connected farmers receive more resources from the state. The rural elite overshadow small scale, less politically connected farmers.

“These state resources are available but they are not distributed to those who desperately need them. Access to those resources are problematic.”

Ngubane believe that the political task at hand, going into the future, is to redirect state support to a broader constituency and to ensure that state support is distributed fairly.

Listen to Ngubane’s full presentation and engagement with audience here:


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