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Regional themes > Land Last update: 2020-11-27  

Agrarian reform and the 'two economies': transforming South Africa's countryside

Ben Cousins

Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)
School of Government, University of the Western Cape

Draft chapter for a forthcoming book on “The Land Question in South Africa: the challenge of transformation and redistribution”,
edited by Ruth Hall and Lungisile Ntsebeza (2005)

SARPN acknowledges the ELDIS website as the source of this document:
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This chapter focuses on the rural dimensions of the ‘two economies’ debate, and in particular on the question of what contribution land and agrarian reform can make to reducing inequality and addressing the structural nature of rural poverty in post-apartheid South Africa. It suggests that the problem needs to be conceptualised in terms of an ‘agrarian question of the dispossessed’, that can only be resolved through a wide-ranging agrarian reform. This must include the redistribution of land and the securing of land rights, but go beyond land questions and aim to restructure rural economic space, property regimes and socio-political relations. This approach is premised on the potential for ‘accumulation from below’ in both agricultural and non-agricultural forms of petty commodity production, and expanded opportunities for multiple livelihood strategies. The chapter suggests five core propositions as a possible basis for rethinking land and agrarian reform policies and programmes.

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