Land, Law and Traditional Leadership in South Africa

With over two decades after the end of apartheid, land remains an emotive fault line in South Africa. In rural communities, many have lost patience with the paternalistic approach of traditional leaders, commercial farmers and mining corporations. The African National Congress (ANC) has assiduously courted the interests of these groups at the expense of the rural poor. The ANC has provided fuel to militant activists, who are calling for the expropriation of land without compensation, by over-promising and under-delivering on land reform. In April 2016, the ARI was invited to attend a symposium on land, law and traditional leadership that the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF) and Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) hosted. On the 103rd anniversary of the Natives Land Act, which precipitated widespread dispossession and forced relocation of black South Africans, this Briefing Note summarizes the provocation papers discussed at the symposium and sets out recommendations for a bold new approach to land reform.