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About Vumelana

Vumelana is a non-profit, public benefit organisation that supports communities in South Africa’s Land Reform Programme to develop their land through mutually beneficial partnerships between the beneficiary communities and private investors. The partnerships are designed to create jobs, generate income and develop and transfer skills.

Our work is complementary to what Government is doing in developing rural communities and ensuring productive use of restored land.

Go to What We do for more on our programmes.

Vumelana was started following the successful pilot project of the Business Trust , the Maruleng and Bushbuckridge Economic Development Initiative (MABEDI).

MABEDI aimed to pilot a market-based approach to economic development, and part of the programme focused on working with land reform beneficiary communities responsible for the management of land acquired under the Land Reform Programme.

Based on the success of the MABEDI pilot project, the Business Trust resolved to make a founding donation to establish Vumelana in 2012 to support Community Private Partnerships on a sustainable basis.

Visit the section on How it all started to learn more about the Business Trust and Mabedi

Vumelana is a non-profit, public benefit organisation. The Business Trust made a founding donation to Vumelana in 2012.

To ensure the sustainability of the organisation and ongoing support to land reform beneficiary communities, Vumelana is dependent on funding by donor organisation and foundations.

Click here to read more about how you can support what we do.

We will only consider projects that will benefit communities who are beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme in South Africa.

Our support focuses on funding the advisory services required to facilitate mutually beneficial and commercially viable partnerships between land reform beneficiary communities and private investors. These partnerships are typically lease-based agreements.

To find out more about what we support and how we decide who to support, click here You can also drop us an email at or fill out the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About what we do

The idea behind our work is that:

  • if independent, skilled advisors are made available, the risks associated with partnerships will decline;
  • if risks can be reduced, partnerships will increase;
  • if partnerships increase, productivity will improve; and
  • if productivity improves, jobs, income and livelihoods will be enhanced.

Vumelana’s model is designed to provide transaction advisory services at no cost to the community and recover costs from investors only if deals are successfully concluded.

If partnership agreements are signed, the investors reimburse Vumelana for the costs incurred. The reimbursed funds are used for community capacity building.

Vumelana decided to focus on land reform, not because it presents ‘easy wins’ but because it is important.

Land reform is a moral imperative and a constitutional obligation. If properly managed, it can create assets for the poor, stabilise relationships and promote development. Poorly managed, it destroys assets, impoverishes communities and undermines local economies.

The stakes are high.

The land question lies at the heart of the way in which South Africa’s future will be decided.

The needs are great.

The effective transfer and development of land provides an opportunity to enhance the assets of the poor and reduce both poverty and inequality, while supporting sustained growth in a way that meets the needs of the poor.

Government needs assistance.

Despite the state’s relative success in transferring land to poor people and those dispossessed under apartheid, it is failing to ensure that transferred land is productively used and serves as the basis for sustainable income and wealth creation.

The consequences of failure could be catastrophic.

Land reform is of much greater systemic relevance to South Africa’s social, political and economic prospects than is suggested by the contribution of the land economy to GDP and employment. A failure to resolve the land question systemically could have devastating consequences for South Africa’s future.

We will only consider projects that will benefit communities who are beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme in South Africa.

Our support focuses on funding the advisory services required to facilitate mutually beneficial and commercially viable partnerships between land reform beneficiary communities and private investors. These partnerships are typically lease-based agreements.

To find out more about what we support and how we decide who to support, click here You can also drop us an email at or fill out the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

About our approach

Our aim is to drive a more inclusive approach to land reform by demonstrating the value of mobilising private investment and partnerships facilitated through Community Private Partnerships as a contributor to successful land reform.

Linking land reform beneficiary communities with private investors will provide linkages to finance, skills and networks needed to make effective use of restituted land.

These type of partnerships are based on an assumption that the partners are unlikely to be equally capable of carrying risk and that the balance of risks, resources and rewards must be negotiated in the context of the particular circumstances of each case.

Community Private Partnership contracts are structured to ensure that the partners are able to meet their obligations and exercise their rights in a manner that supports the profitable operation of the business venture they enter into.

Click here to read more on Vumelana’s approach to partnerships for land reform.

Management agreements are an alternative to Community Private Partnerships in so far as the partners share the risks and the rewards. In management agreements the land-owner typically caries all the risk and the private manager earns a fee whether or not the venture succeeds.

Typical joint ventures demand 50:50 shareholding and risk taking.

Vumelana has no financial interest in the outcome of any of the partnership agreements being facilitated by the advisors. We are driven by an agenda that showcase examples of sustainable economic activities on transferred land. This agenda serves the interests of all primary stakeholders in land reform: landowners, investors, advisors and government.

Vumelana is guided by the following principles:

Mutual benefit

Agreements should produce mutually beneficial results for communities and investors.

Community control

Vumelana’s process supports the development of agreements between Communal Property Institutions (CPIs) and private parties; the CPIs are the principals who will accept or reject the terms of a proposed agreement. While acknowledging the “asymmetry of power” in these relationships and providing direct support to the community, care must be exercised not to usurp the community’s decision-making authority. Properly elected and effectively supported community bodies should make the key decisions on whether or not to accept an investment proposal.

Commercial sustainability

While accepting that a range of initiatives will be required to support communities in the land reform programme, Vumelana’s particular contribution is to support those initiatives that have the potential for commercial sustainability.

The ultimate assessment of commercial sustainability will be made by the investors who risk their resources in the development.

Risk management

Commercial ventures require those involved to risk resources in pursuit of a reward. The development of a commercial partnership thus requires the acceptance of risk. It is important that the risks involved are clear to the parties involved and that wherever possible risks are allocated to parties that are able to accept them. The most successful Community Private Partnerships have been based on mechanisms where the community partner is able to enter the partnership with the private partner carrying the commercial risk with the right to acquire an increasing stake in the operations as they move to profitability.

Independent advice

One of Vumelana’s primary roles is to fund the provision of independent advice to the parties involved in structuring an agreement for the development of land under the control of a communal property institution. It is important that the advisors should be independent of the community, the investor and Vumelana.

Fair and firm agreements

The outcome of the deal structuring process should be an agreement that is fair to both parties and legally secure

About good governance

Communal Property Institutions have the potential to become drivers of local economic development if arrangements can be made to retain the productivity of the land they own and to build their ability to govern and administer their affairs.

Good governance amongst Communal Property Institutions (CPIs) is a key ingredient in successful land reform projects. One of the biggest challenges that we have identified with beneficiaries of land reform and possible the biggest contributor to the high failure rate of land reform projects is low levels of compliance with basic requirements of good governance by CPIs. This in most instances leads to mistrust and sometimes infightings amongst the community and destruction of assets.

The CPI is properly constituted with an approved constitution, that properly elected governing structures are in place, and that regular report-back meetings (including Annual General Meetings) are held and well attended;

  • the members and membership rights and obligations and policies for member management are well defined;
  • financial management systems are managed in accordance with policies and procedures and that regular management accounts and audited annual financial statements are produced; and
  • there is sufficient capacity to administer the property and other resources under its control through an effectively organised and well-managed office.

Vumelana has developed a capacity needs assessment tool to guide the assessment and support of Communal Property Institutions.

It focuses on five dimensions of Communal Property Institution governance and management:

  • Basic governance arrangements must be in place, such as an up-to-date constitution and properly elected governing bodies and committees.
  • Relationships with members must be systematically managed by having an up-to-date member register as well as policies that clearly define members’ rights and obligations regarding entry and exit, benefit distribution, dispute resolution and so on.
  • Day-to-day administration must be managed by establishing operating policies and acquiring the skills and other resources needed.
  • Finances must be accounted for and independently audited. Clear reports must be made to members through annual general meetings and other means.
  • The property belonging to the community must be registered and managed in accordance with policies agreed to by the members

It was originally designed to be used by development practitioners in projects supported by Vumelana. We hope that it will also be useful for other practitioners as well as the Communal Property Institutions governing bodies.

You can download the Communal Property Institution Capacity Needs Assessment tool here. 

For a guide on how to use the Capacity Needs Assessment tool, download the user guide here.


About Land Reform

It is important to keep in mind that all land-based, development-related legislation applies to land reform projects and that land reform on its own has various pieces of laws and policies. In addition to this, land reform in also involves a wide range of Departments and therefore relies of various pieces of legislations.

The most important of these are:

Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994

“To provide for the restitution of rights in land to persons or communities Dispossessed of such rights after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racially Discriminatory laws or practices; to establish a Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and a Land Claims Court; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

Restitution of Land Rights Act Amendment Act 48 of 2003

“To amend the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 1994, so as to empower the Minister of Land Affairs to purchase, acquire in any other manner or expropriate land, a portion of land or a right in land for the purpose of the restoration or award of such land, portion of land or right in land to a claimant or for any other related land reform purpose; and to provide for matters connected therewith.”

Visit for a list of the most updated policies, acts, bills, regulations etc. relevant to land reform in South Africa.

The beneficiaries in the land reform programme can hold property in a number of organisational forms. These include Communal Property Associations (CPAs), Trusts, Close Corporations and Cooperatives.

CPAs and Trusts are the most common form of land holding entities for land reform project.

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