Property rights and hierarchies of power: a critical evaluation of land-reform policy in South Africa

Abstract

The programme of land reform laws introduced in South Africa since 1991 is often seen and discussed as nothing more than a highly technical, black-letter aspect of South African law. In this article, the author directs attention to the policies that underly the land reform laws, and discusses the transformative potential and effect of land reform laws in view of these policies. The main question is whether the land reform programme has succeeded in breaking away from or undermining the hierarchies of power that were inherent in traditional common-law property relationships and, particularly, in the politically sanctioned and statutorily entrenched system of apartheid land law. Through the analysis of the most important land reform laws the author concludes that the land reform programme is only partially successful in this regard, since many of the new laws still uphold or entrench the underlying hierarchies o f power that characterised apartheid land law.
https://doi.org/10.4102/koers.v64i2/3.504
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