Post-settlement land reform challenges : the case of the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration, Mpumalanga Province
Masoka, Nomvula Sylvia
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As a national key priority programme, land reform acts as a driving force for rural development and building the economy of the country. In order for land reform to contribute to sustainable livelihoods for land reform beneficiaries, it must be supported by diversified programmes of pre- and post-settlement support of agrarian reform in a non-centralised and non-bureaucratic manner. Post-settlement support in the context of South African land reform refers to post-transfer support or settlement support given to land reform beneficiaries after they have received land. Support services, or complementary development support, as specified in the White Paper of the South African Land Policy of 1996, include assistance with productive and sustainable land use, agricultural extension services support, infrastructural support, access to markets and credit facilities, and agricultural production inputs. Government’s mandate is, however, not only restricted to the redistribution of land or making land more accessible. It is also responsible for empowering beneficiaries and for creating an effective support foundation to ensure that sustainable development takes place, specifically in the rural areas of the country. In practice, sustainable development entails that, for land reform to be successful, the quality of life of beneficiaries must improve substantially and the acquired land must be utilised to its full commercial potential, after resettlement on claimed land has occurred. Therefore, an effective post-settlement support strategy and model must be set in place. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) and the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Administration (DARDLA) are the key departments that have been mandated to implement the Land Reform Programme (LRP). DRDLR is responsible for facilitation of the land acquisition (pre-settlement support) and DARDLA for post-settlement support, ensuring that the land or farms that have been delivered or acquired by land beneficiaries are economically viable. Without post-settlement support, land reform will not yield to sustainable development and nor improve the quality of life of rural people. There is, however, little or no evidence to suggest that land reform has led to improved efficiency, improvement of livelihoods, job creation or economic growth. Against this background, the study investigated and unlocked the key challenges related to the post-settlement support of the LRP, with emphasis on the agricultural support programmes rendered by the DARDLA in Mpumalanga Province to land reform beneficiaries. It further examined how such support impacts on the sustainability of the LRP, and made recommendations to the management of the Department on what could be done to further improve post-settlement support to land reform projects towards achieving the objective of sustainable development.