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Redistribution ‘prepares land for elite seizure’

THE government’s programmes to address land reform, rural poverty and food insecurity have had little success and its redistribution process “appears to be ripe for elite capture”, researchers at the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) have concluded. 

A green paper on rural development was to be drafted and tabled in the Cabinet before the end of the 2012-13 fiscal period, but its contents and status remain under wraps, HSRC researchers Peter Jacobs and Tim Hart write in this year’s State of the Nation review. 

Nearly 18-million people lived in rural areas in 2012. The proportion of rural households relying on wage employment as the main income source fell from 42% in 2002 to 38% in 2012, with a dramatic rise in the number of rural households dependent on social grants as their primary income. 

Mr Jacobs and Mr Hart said tracking the successes of the development programme was “extremely challenging given the apparent unwillingness to make recent data and reports publicly available”.

The primary activities of the programme seemed to be discussions with traditional leaders or ward councillors and compiling profiles of households. 

The two researchers write: “This process appears weighted in favour of the elite and seems to be an activity that simply ratifies government-proposed plans.

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