Comparative analysis of the land redistribution policies of Zimbabwe (1980) and South Africa (1994)
Rabotapi, Harris Matlawe
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The dawn of post-independence Zimbabwe and post-apartheid South Africa inspired high expectations of all sorts of public services and goods among the black populations in these countries. These included a fundamental transformation of property rights to redress the history of land dispossession and oppression. This issue was among the top priorities of the new governments in these countries. Land redistribution, as part of land reform, became one of the interventions through which transformation of property rights could be undertaken. The fundamental question that faced these countries post-independence and post-apartheid was that of justice and fairness. This question is essentially about how best to broaden the patterns of land ownership and land use to include the black majorities that were marginalised during the colonial period and apartheid, without undermining investor confidence or negating the rule of law. This question has always been viewed through the lens of historic injustice, and has always included racial elements. Both these countries were confronted by pressures to implement land redistribution. However, they reacted differently and have pursued different approaches to land redistribution, with Zimbabwe taking the radical path while South Africa opted to remain gradual in terms of its approach. The outcomes that have become characteristic of Zimbabwe’s approach, such as land invasion and land occupation, have made that country an important framing device for reflecting on South Africa’s land redistribution process. This mini-dissertation is a comparative analysis of the implementation of land redistribution as a public policy issue in Zimbabwe since independence in 1980 and in South Africa since democracy in 1994 up to the present. The main objective of the study is to examine how post-independence Zimbabwe’s approach to land redistribution policy implementation and the ramifications thereof limit the scope for policy choices in post-apartheid South Africa with regard to land redistribution. To validate this, information was extracted from multiple targeted sources of secondary information in the main (textbooks, published articles, newspapers, etc.) and from a few primary sources such as written speeches. The specific research design and approach followed was the collection and qualitative analysis of texts and documents, a method which involves content analysis. The findings presented are divided into 12 variables. These cover all categories developed and associated with land redistribution implementation in these countries, and include the type of land reform programme; nature of land reform; historic negotiations, etc. One of the key finding is that the resolution of land redistribution in South Africa, in light of the Zimbabwe experience and lessons, will either result from a fundamental restructuring of the government’s land redistribution programme, or a fundamental “restructuring of property relations by the people” themselves.