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    Volume XIV (2003)

    Transformation in South Africa: A Study of Education  and Land

    Kema Irogbe, Department of Political Science, Claflin University, Orangeburg, SC 29115


                This paper examines the problems of education and redistribution of land in post-apartheid South Africa. The concern is to determine whether the land and the educational policies pursued by the post-apartheid black majority government have been effective in meeting the needs of the landless, economically dispossessed, and educationally deprived black people who had endured enormous hardship caused by the infamous apartheid system. The cornerstones of apartheid system in South Africa were the unequal distribution of land and the educational perversion designed to create racial and class bondage. These contentious and central issues have been the focus of debates in government and academia worldwide. In the post-apartheid era, how much of the roughly 87% of the land controlled by 5,000,000 white settlers has been made available for more than 30,000,000 black majority who had been occupying only roughly 13% of the land? What have been the reactions of the black majority on the government’s market-driven policy on land reform? Is the interest of black majority including black women who till the land being considered? Most importantly, on whose terms is the issue of land reform being determined? These questions are addressed in the paper.           
                Education is the foundation of national development. The races, under the apartheid system, were educated separately in order to prepare them for their predetermined place in society. Education had played a major role in preparing whites to lead the economy and in simultaneously preventing blacks from occupying influential positions in the labor force. Education for whites was free and compulsory until the age of sixteen. White schools were provided excellent facilities, and a large percentage of the white minority under the apartheid system had diplomas in higher education at the government’s expense. In contrast, educational opportunities for blacks were limited; it was neither free nor compulsory. As the then Minister of Native Affairs of the apartheid white minority government, Hendrick Verwoerd, once said:

            …there is no place for him (blacks) in the European community above the level of certain forms of labor. Until now he has been subjected to a school system which drew him away from his community and misled him by showing him the green pastures of European society in which he was not allowed to graze. Who will do the manual labor if you give the Natives an academic education? Education must train and teach people in accordance with their opportunities in life.1

    With that in mind, a well-regulated technical education system was imposed on the black majority rather than an academic education.
                 The paper sketches the pattern of transformation of education in the post-apartheid era. Efforts have been made to present the South Africa’s Ministry of Education strategies for effecting changes in both the governance and the funding of education. Performance indicators are introduced to highlight enrollment gaps experienced by the black majority, and performance indicators are also utilized to determine the extent of the improved education for blacks under the existing majority rule. How can a market-based educational system provide equal access to a black majority who had too long been deprived of acquisition of capital and academic education? To what extent are the traditional black and traditional white universities created by the infamous apartheid system being integrated? What are the hiring practices of graduates of both categories of schools? Is there a concerted effort towards a balanced racial composition of faculties and staffs in higher education of learning in the new democratic dispensation that may prevent the further development of intellectual servitude and cultural alienation? Until now, education in South Africa had been subjected to academic ethnocentrism, devoid of non-Western cultural discourse. Is it realistic to rely on the same white faculty and staff members who had long defended the apartheid system to provide meaningful education for the black majority? These are some of the immediate and legitimate concerns. 

    Higher Education in South Africa

                Before 1990, the formulation of education policy in South Africa was an exclusive preserve of the white minority government. The government maintained control in ways that were bureaucratically centralized and politically authoritarian. All of this changed on 2 February 1990, when the then President Frederick W. de Klerk announced the unbanning of the liberation organizations, the release of political prisoners and the acceleration of movement towards the first nonracial, democratic elections of April 1994. Since 1990, a flurry of education policies was unveiled in anticipation of the formal legal termination of apartheid by a number of stakeholders including the private sector, through the Private Sector Education Council (PRISEC) and then the early National Training Board (NTB); the labor movement, through the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU); the broad democratic movement, through the National Education Policy Investigation (NEPI); the self-reforming apartheid state, through the Education Renewal Strategy (ERS)–-in two versions—and A New Curriculum Model for South Africa (CUMSA); the international aid community, through multiple, self-funded sectoral reports; and the non-governmental sector, through a range of different program and policy positions and alignments. All these actors jostled for position at the starting line in 1990 as they prepared to develop signal policy positions for a “democratic South Africa.” The interactions that resulted among these various internal and external sectors formed the basic foundations for education policies after apartheid. However, the apartheid state, the business community, e.g., the Urban Foundation and the Anglo American Chairman’s Fund, the international aid community, e.g., United States Agency for International Development, the think tanks and other non-governmental organizations were very influential in the formulation of education policies during the transition to democracy.
                  The initial proposal by the ANC to institute free education at all levels and to bring education and training under a single coordinated system was generally supported by most black groups but was rejected by the white minority. Faced with internal and external pressures, the ANC decided to reexamine its position on education and appointed Cheryl Carolus and Trevor Combe to work out a compromise model. The Carolus Committee, among other things, recommended: (a) no free higher education in South Africa; (b) financial aid is needed to help some students pay the private costs of their education; (c) the scheme must be for financially needy students only, where need is determined by a national means test which contains no population-based criteria; (d) the scheme cannot be a demand-driven one, financial aid will be rationed on grounds of affordability.2 The suggestion to apply a market-driven approach for the attainment of higher education was endorsed mostly by the white minority population, the business community, non-governmental organizations, and the international community. In the end, higher education in South Africa is essentially based on the option of who can afford it! But why was the policy of free education at all levels that the ANC had promised during the liberation movement not adopted? There are several theoretical and practical explanations.
                 Although the armed struggle, economic embargo, the collapse of Soviet Union, the withdrawal of Cuba’s influence in the region, the discreditation of communism, the psychological exhaustion of the white minority settler regime, and the material exhaustion of black liberation organizations provided the impetus for both the black majority and the white minority to come to the negotiating table for a peaceful settlement, the national liberation through the armed struggle which the ANC and other black groups sought did not result in forced removal of the white minority government from power to allow a free reign of the black majority. Generally, while policymakers try to be innovative they also seek for precedents and consultations. Unfortunately, in the absence of a legitimate government, the ANC, before coming to power, had to rely on think tanks and non-governmental sector dominated by the white minority. Also, the protracted conflict resulted to a political fatigue of black leaders who had hoped that a negotiated settlement could produce accelerated changes. So, the difficulty that the payment of school fees can create should not be viewed only in a racial perspective, the focus of the paper, but it is also related to gender and class issues.
                 While the gender and class discourse is relevant to South African politics, it should be addressed adequately elsewhere and should not occupy our time here. Suffice it to say, however, that the school fees policy cannot provide access to education for many blacks and other poor South Africans with merger incomes. Under the market approach to educational reform, some well-connected black students could obtain financial assistance through public agencies that are supported by the taxpayers. It provokes a critical question: is it right for some students to be treated fairly and others unjustly even though they may have the same identical intellectual ability, productive capacity, universal recognition, and marketability of discipline? It is elitist in that the requirement for school fees—in a society whose black population had long been denied any meaningful educational and economic advancement—gives opportunity to a few blacks that may become an appendage to the status quo rather than become advocates for a change. While the school fees may be of little consequence to the few well-to-do black families, it creates enormous hardship for the majority of poor black parents who may have to make a choice between sending their young men or women to higher education. Based on African cultural experience, the choice is clear. Women’s education will be sacrificed for “holy” matrimony. We should also remember that during the apartheid era, many white students were able to attend colleges or universities of their choice at the state expense. It is therefore instructive that the black majority government should consider the interests of all segments of the society in the educational transformation.
                  Until 1994, there were 21 universities. Nine of these universities were created to serve non-whites (Blacks or Africans, Coloreds, Asians, and Indians) by discriminatory legislation. Historically, black universities did not enjoy academic freedom and autonomy. They were regarded as outposts of the National Department of Education.3 Although white English universities (Natal and Rhodes, as well as the universities of Cape Town and the Witwatersrand) practiced open admissions, blacks were required to obtain a permit from the Minister of Education for admission. Also, some blacks considered persona non grata by the state were not admitted. Indeed, the horrors of apartheid, which are well documented, need not occupy too much space here, except to serve as a backdrop to our understanding of the nature of the problems created by apartheid until 1994. What is needed is a presentation of the challenges to transformation. In doing so, black performance indicators are compared to other racial groups to demonstrate the enormity of the problems that the majority government has inherited.
                 One major challenge of a post-apartheid government is to find a way to increase the number of blacks in various academic disciplines, particularly in science and technology. As shown in Table I—Number of First Bachelors Degrees According to Field of Study and Population Group: 1980, 1986, 1989—the number of graduates in the natural sciences for blacks was a total of 502 compared to 11,964 whites. For the years specified, 1,928 (17%) blacks received degrees in medicine in comparison to 4,261 (72%) whites, while Asians accounted for 429 (7.3%) and coloreds numbered 191 (3.7%) of the degrees awarded in the field. In the humanities, black graduates numbered 4,894 (18%), while whites numbered 18,172 (67%). Coloreds numbered 2,036 (7.5%) and Asians 1,929 (7%). The table clearly highlights the gulf of racial disparities by field.


    Number of First Bachelor's Degrees
    According to Field Study and Population Group
    1980, 1986, and 1989

    FIELD OF STUDY Whites Coloreds Asians Blacks TOTAL

    NATURAL SCIENCES          
    1980 3,160 70 127 87 3,444
    1986 3,653 133 192 166 4,144
    1989 3,881 162 313 249 4,605
    HUMAN SCIENCES          
    1980 5,738 359 465 572 7,134
    1986 5,898 738 805 1,648 9.089
    1989 6,535 939 659 2,674 10,803
    1980 1,298 30 77 103 1,508
    1986 1,415 61 141 347 1,964
    1989 1,548 100 211 578 2,437
    1980 2,021 42 146 75 2,284
    1986 3,392 107 162 213 3,874
    1989 4,440 142 309 353 5,204

    Source: C. J. Sheppherd et al. "Education statistics according to development region 1980, 1986, and 1989," HSRC, December 1992

                 In another gloomy picture for blacks, Table II—Racial Distribution by Occupation, 1991—shows the enormous disparity among the races. Blacks were disproportionately underrepresented. In architecture, for instance, only four blacks were qualified compared to 1,370 whites. In astronomy, biochemistry, biology and biophysics, the table shows lack of black representation.


    Racial Distribution by Occupation--1991

    OCCUPATION Whites Coloreds Asians Blacks TOTAL

    Teacher 60,107 35,081 11,599 139,184 245,980
    Archtecture 1,370 39 9 4 1,422
    Quantity Surveyor 2,164 55 140 45 2,404
    Town Planner 713 11 6 10 740
    Surveyor 261 26 24 58 369
    Agricultruist 1,818 12 19 649 2,498
    Agronomist 211 0 2 23 236
    Forester 187 27 - 2 216
    Horticulturalist 874 8 15 19 916
    Public Accountant 7,803 90 268 211 8,372
    Management Account 13,131 486 746 616 14,979
    Articled Clerk 6,663 169 310 278 9,420
    University FAculty 10,622 410 417 893 12,342
    Technikon, Teacher Training 8,122 803 345 1,800 11,070
    Doctor 21,511 687 2,586 1,576 26,360
    Dentist 4,194 173 258 450 5,075
    Pharmacist 4,354 51 247 77 4,729
    Physiotherapist 1,738 383 119 471 2,713
    Radiographer 2,541 404 247 699 3,891
    Veterinary Sciences 1,330 3 9 136 1,478
    Astronomer 4 0 0 0 4
    Biochemist 113 7 0 0 120
    Biologist 26 0 0 0 26
    Biophysicist 4 0 0 0 4
    Chemist 1,526 72 175 96 1,869
    Computer Analyst 6,373 340 405 186 7,304
    Computer Programmer 5,433 427 573 223 6,656
    Engineer 15,151 141 183 204 16,579
    Geologist 1,488 5 12 42 1,547
    Mathematical 1,361 128 16 79 1,584
    Metallurgist 1,379 3 14 17 1,413
    Physicist 289 6 2 5 302
    Engineering Technician 27,655 1,507 1,171 1,553 31,896
    Agricultural, Forestry & Food Technologists 245 22 14 28 309
    Biological Science Technologists 173 9 15 20 217
    Physical Science Technologists 230 23 32 17 302
    Director General 155 0 0 11 166
    Director/Deputy 4,952 27 33 57 5,069
    Executive Official 223 4 6 18 251
    Government Administrator 827 21 3 224 1,075

    Source: Manpower Survey, 1991, Occupational Information, Central Statistical Service, March 1993

                 As shown on Table III—University Enrollments in Natural Sciences and Engineering Versus Social Sciences and Humanities (Post-Graduate)—there is a heavy concentration of Africans (blacks) in the social sciences as opposed to the natural sciences and engineering.


    UNiversity Enrollments in Natural Science and Engineering
    Versus Scoial Siences and Humanities
    (Post Graduate)

    Income Bracket 1985 1985 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992

     HONOURS NS & E                
    White 2020 2149 2110 2182 2296 2195 2262 2250
    Colored 67 68 73 89 76 78 103 108
    Indian 47 67 75 123 112 130 119 130
    African 132 239 225 388 417 465 538 565
    MASTERS NS & E                
    White 4781 5240 5413 N/A N/A 58007 6016 6155
    Colored 67 88 97 101 130 134 154 148
    Indian 264 346 348 324 366 413 444 505
    African 170 187 209 266 311 511 485 533
    DOCTORAL NS & E                
    White 1572 1648 1737 1660 1789 1806 1830 1864
    Colored 2223 23 27 29 32 33 40 49
    Indian 41 40 46 54 63 62 71 80
    African 25 28 35 39 43 51 65 75
    HONOURS SS & H                
    White 11081 11908 11558 12307 12441 12671 13128 13541
    Colored 833 847 846 991 1292 1419 1595 1387
    Indian 1175 1412 1457 1479 1309 1412 1546 1618
    African 2254 2825 3326 4201 4890 5091 5820 7331
    MASTERS SS & H                
    White 8991 7866 8257 8741 8885 9179 9542 9726
    Colored 225 222 218 250 428 444 504 509
    Indian 231 248 304 307 N/A 269 455 513
    African 342 409 524 677 756 967 1235 1328
    DOCTORAL SS & H                
    White 2356 2503 2547 2608 2453 2461 2490 2536
    Colored 31 36 38 36 58 62 63 59
    Indian 32 32 49 54 66 81 85 81
    African 91 87 101 109 110 149 180 212
    TOTAL NS & F                
    White .8373 9037 9260 9207 9735 9899 10108 10269
    Colored 156 179 197 219 231 243 297 305
    Indian 352 453 469 501 541 605 634 715
    African 327 464 469 693 771 N/A 1088 1173
    TOTAL SS & H                
    White 20428 22276 22360 23656 237 243 297 305
    Colored 1089 1105 1102 1277 1776 0925 2162 1955
    Indian 4438 1692 1810 1840 1794 1862 2086 2212
    African 2687 3321 3951 4987 N/A N/A N/A N/A

    Source: Science & Technology Policy, FRD, Pretoria: Draft Data for SA Science and Technology Indicators, 1995

    Also, Table IV—South African Post-Secondary Enrollments in 1991–-further demonstrates that blacks, though the majority in the country, still lag behind other groups.


    South African Post-Secondary Enrollments in 1991

    Population Group Total PSE Enrollments per 1,000% of 1991 Population Universitiy Enrollments per 1,000% of 1991 Population Total PSE Enrolled as % of Population Aged 18-122

    White 51 35 60
    Colored 13 7 11
    Indian 35 25 33
    African 9 6 9
    AVERAGE 18 12 17

    Source: National Education Policy Investigation, 1992:21

                 Furthermore, income inequality, which is a social reality in South Africa, places a severe limit on the ability of many blacks to provide their children with quality education. Between 1975 and 1991, the income of the poorest 60% of the population dropped by about 35%. By 1996, the gap between rich and poor had grown even larger. The poorest quintile received 1.5% of the total income, compared to the 65% received by the richest 10%. The extreme income inequality suggested in Table V—Annual Household Income in Rands, 1996—limits the ability of individuals and households to finance the enhancement of skills, education, and training that are critical pre-requisites for improved participation in the labor market. Another critical area of social inequality relates to occupation and education. Two measures of equity are applied here: equity in the occupational structure and equity in education. In both cases the measures are disaggregated by race.


    Annual Household Income in Rands, 1996

    Income Bracket African White Colored Asian Average

    Poorest 2,383 29,549 8,214 17,878 3,572
    41-60% 9,120 83,506 25,967 49,569 15,624
    61-80% 19,183 134,821 46,463 80,882 36,797
    81-90% 37,093 207,243 77,866 125,962 78,620
    Richest 10% 108,568 406,091 168,005 258,244 222,734
    AVERAGE 21,180 119,818 42,359 71,662 42,048

    Source: Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa: A National at Work for a Better Life for All, HRSC Publishers, Pretoria, 2000, p.7

    The key result is shown in Figure 1—Black

    Representation by Occupational Category—that shows blacks are still grossly under-represented in the top occupations such as managers, senior officials, and professionals; they are over-represented in the low-level occupations classified as elementary occupations, non-permanent employees, and plant and machine operators and assemblers. This inequity calls for an aggressive government-assisted educational and training programs, not a piecemeal window-dressing approach, to bridge the gaps between black and white in the different occupations.
                  The Department of Labor Employment Equity provided qualitative indicators of barriers to employment equity in the labor market, for example, in the areas of access to training, recruitment, practices, succession, planning, performance appraisal and job grading systems. Despite the fact that blacks are under-represented in critical areas of labor force, in general, discrimination is still present in the labor market. One study that highlights the hidden discriminatory practices is the HRSC (Human Resource Strategy Center) Study of the first employment experiences of 1,806 graduates who graduated in the period 1991 to 1995. The study shows that the labor market discriminates against university graduates with respect to population group and academic institution. African (black) and other graduates from historical black universities (HBU’s) were more likely to struggle to find employment. Although graduate unemployment is low at only 2%, the respondents graduating from the historically white universities (HWU’s) who found employment immediately was 65%, as opposed to 28% of the respondents from the HBU’s. With the exception of the Medical University of South Africa (immediate employment at 80%), all the HBU’s fared worse in terms of immediate employment than the HWU’s.4 This discriminatory practice based on school affiliation can only be eradicated by an effective desegregation policy that undermines the historically white or black institutions. Without such a policy to dismantle the remnants of apartheid, blacks would continue to feel inferior and remain subordinated in the land of their ancestors.
                 It is also imperative for the government to use planning and funding mechanisms to encourage education and training institutions to transform the racially skewed character of the staff compositions. One measure of inequality is the extent of change in the racial composition of students and staff at South Africa’s education and training institutions. Table VI shows the latest results for students in Higher Education and Training (HET). Black students (African students) are now in the majority in South Africa’s HET institutions. This is an encouraging trend, but inequalities in the staffing of the institutions still prevail. In 1998, whites still constituted 80% of academic staff in HET, with Africans at 12%, Coloreds at 3%, and Indian academic staff at 5%. In the Technical Colleges during the 2000 period, whites still constituted 61% of academic staff, with Africans at 28%, coloreds at 8%, and Indians at 3%. This clashes markedly with the student composition that has changed dramatically in the past five years. Student enrollment in Technical Colleges now shows Africans (71%), Whites (18%), Coloreds (9%), and Indians (1%).6 To prevent cultural alienation and educational servitude, HET institutions staff, faculty and administrative personnel must reflect the student enrollment by population group. Without an aggressive affirmative action program to recruit staff, faculty, and administrative personnel in direct proportion to student enrollment by population group, blacks would greatly be shortchanged. More importantly, blacks would face the danger of being “miseducated” (i.e., education that perpetuates the subordination of blacks) because there are no indications that the white minority settlers have completely gotten rid of their apartheid mentality. The apartheid system of education was an agenda for cultural suicide and the displacement of indigenous systems of knowledge. Despite the decades of the nefarious system, the black majority has survived the academic and political tyrannies culminating in the rejection of the language of their oppressors: Afrikaans. In the post-apartheid era, the academic institutions should be thoroughly administered to salvage the indigenous cultures and the national heritage because salvation of a people is dependent upon education. Any meaningful educational reform must recognize this social reality.


    Student Headcount in HET by Population Group, 1993-952

    POPULATION GROUP 1993 1999

    White 44% 29%
    Indian 7% 7%
    Colored 6% 5%
    African 40% 59%

                 In June 1999, the Ministry of Education presented a report to the incoming Minister of Education following the second democratic general election of that year. The Status Report, as we will call it, was more or less a compact yet informative review of the transformation of education since the advent of democratic rule. The Status Report highlighted, among other things, the five years of change (1994–99); the transformation of learning opportunities; and the policies, Acts of Parliament and regulations that constitute the legacy of the country during the last decade of the last millennium. Certain undeniable achievements and irreversible changes have been made between 1994 and 1999 under the administration of Nelson Mandela. The administration unleashed profound forces of democratization that could not but leave a significant imprint on the country’s education and training system. An examination of the main thrusts of the changes, which are still far from dismantling the legacies of apartheid education, is as follows:

    1.   The complex disestablishment of nineteen apartheid education departments was initiated and completed. The pre-1994 education dispensation was replaced by a unitary, nonracial system of provincial education management and administration. Over time, the nine provincial departments, together with the national department, started the complex task of functioning as a single national system of education and training.

    2.   Without regard to race, class, religion or creed, South African children and university students were brought under one roof. These changes in the school and higher education sectors were brought about in compliance with the provisions of the South African Schools Act of 1996, the Further Education and Training Act of 1998, and the Higher Education Act of 1997.

    3.   Some of the landmark developments associated with the South African Schools Act were the introduction of compulsory school attendance for all children between the ages of six and fifteen, as well as the establishment of elected and representative school governing bodies in public schools throughout the country.7

                The teaching profession in South Africa has always been characterized by divisions of race, ethnicity and gender and steeped in inequality. Table VII shows that a substantial amount of money was allocated, for example, in 1991, to historically white universities compared to historically black universities. The universities in South Africa were not only segregated by enrollment, they were also governed separately according to race under the apartheid system. By 1999, all teachers were brought into one governing body by one Act of Parliament (Employment of Educators Act, 1998) and one professional council, namely, the South African Council for Educators (SACE).


    Human Research Expenditure by University
    Grouping (Rands in thousands) 1992

    Grouping Government Sector University Funds Private Bursary and Foreign TOTAL

    HWU 4,439 10,1761 8,783 82 115,065
    Afrikaans (62%) (43%) (52%) (9%) (44%)
    HWU English 2,348 79,056 7,872 745 90,121
      (34%) (33%) (47$) (70%) (34%)
    HBU 130 25,496 98 120 25,844
      (2%) (11%) (1%) (13%) (10%)
    UNISA 104 30,070 N/A N/A 30,174
      (1%) (13%)   (12%)  

    TOTAL 7.111 236.383 N/A N/A N/A
      (100%) (100%)      

    Source: V. N. Vera in a paper presented at the National Conference of Black Political
    Scientists (NCOBPS) At Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia, 6-10 March 1996

                 Another significant legislation to come out of the first democratic Ministry of Education was the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) Act of 1995.8 The enactment established the process for admissions of students and hiring of personnel into the higher institutions of learning.
                 Although a series of legislative acts were enacted to transform the educational system and to ensure a unitary, nonracial, nonsexist and equitable education of sustainable quality, the implementation of the laws have been problematic. During the early days of 1995 of the Government of National Unity (GNU), the National Party (NP) under Frederick W. de Klerk mobilized stakeholders such as the governing bodies to adopt certain politically preferred positions on many important education matters. Indeed, the education authorities in the non-ANC-controlled provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape believed they had a right to hold on to as much of the policy-making power as they could. Even certain civil society organizations appeared uncertain about the right of the Mandela administration to govern. At the heart of the rather acrimonious debates about the educational transformation was a perennial struggle for power, i.e., the power to make policy and thereby eradicate the racial inequalities of the past. Although the Mandela administration somehow succeeded in the passage of some legislative enactments in an effort to achieve the persistent pattern of racial educational inequity, there was little success in their implementations. This is in part because the administration met stiff opposition to effect changes and in part due to inadequate black educators to manage strategic areas in the education department. The various key units of the Ministry of Education are still controlled by the white minority. As a consequence, the gross inequalities in education persist.

    Redistribution of Land in South Africa

                The cornerstone of apartheid was the unequal distribution of land and the consequent dispossession and economic disempowerment of the black majority, the legal underpinnings of which had been dismantled. On the eve of the new democratic South Africa or the post-apartheid era, various viewpoints regarding the explosive issue of land reform dominated most discussions. The NP insisted on a “willing buyer, willing seller” policy with a priority of preserving the existing commercial agricultural sector and safeguarding existing property rights. On other hand, the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela emphasized “making land available to the land hungry masses” but without reducing production. After much debate, a market approach of “willing buyer, willing seller” was adopted. The question now is how much of the roughly 87% of land area previously reserved for about 5,000,000 whites has been made available for more than 30,000,000 blacks who had occupied only approximately 13% of the land? What resources have been made available to poor farmers to enable them to obtain and utilize land?


                The institutionalization of racial inequality during apartheid South Africa was rooted through a land program. Although apartheid did not become the official policy of the South African government until after the NP was elected to a majority in the Parliament in 1948, a number of laws designed to control the land already existed. The President of the Chamber of Mines in 1912, one year before the first of the Land Acts, had this to say:

            What is wanted is surely a policy that would establish once and for all that outside special reserves, the ownership of land must be in the hands of the white race, and that the surplus of young men, instead of squatting on the land in idleness and spreading out over unlimited areas, must earn their living by working for a wage.9

    This view led to the 1913 Natives’ Land Act. It codified in law the white expropriation of the bulk of the land, including the richest farming and grazing lands, the forest, and all areas with known mineral deposits. No black could own or purchase new land in these parts, only in the reserves. The 1913 Act designated only 7.9% of the country as African reserves, an area subsequently deemed too small to be workable. The Native Trust and Land Act of 1936 accordingly revised the land allocation provisions to 13.7% of South Africa’s land area, largely by incorporating territory that was still effectively under African occupation.10
                  The 1913 Land Act also abolished “farming-on-the-half,” a system whereby Africans who owned their own plows and oxen agreed to cultivate, graze stock, and live on a white landowner’s property in return for giving him half the harvest. The abolition of this system uprooted thousands of black Africans, forcing them to wander around the country without giving them any place to establish new homes. Secretary of the ANC in 1912, Sol Plaatje, described black Africans’ plight: “Awakening on Friday morning June 10, 1913, the South African Native found himself, not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.”11 According to Francis Wilson, an economist at the University of Cape Town:

            [F]ew laws passed in South Africa could have been felt with such immediate harshness by so large a section of the population. The system of farming-on-the-half, which had flourished ever since whites gained control of the interior, was dealt a blow for which it never recovered. The next three decades were to see the almost total elimination of that class of rural Africans who…had once been fairly comfortable, if not rich, and who enjoyed the possession of their stock, living in many instances just like Dutchmen.12

    After the passage of the 1913 Land Act, the areas set aside for black Africans became reservoirs of labor for the mines, towns, and white farms. Consequently, the land wars of the nineteenth century were also labor wars. That is, black Africans, having lost access to their land by force, were permitted to draw sustenance from it as laborers, herdsmen, tenants, or renters. According to C. W. DeKiewiet:

            dispossession and collapse of the tribal system, erosion, and drought, cattle diseases and taxes…all these conspired to accelerate the change from independent tribesmen to a servile group. Because the 19th century created a great class of Black workers upon the farm and in industry, the impression was easily created that white society had won a special position for itself, elevating all of its members beyond the reach of the forces which govern the life of the natives.13

    Following the two Land Acts of 1913 and 1936 and their descendants, the Group Areas Act 41 of 1950 (1950 Act), later consolidated by Group Areas Act 36 of 1966, residential segregation by race in South Africa was imposed. The 1950 Act provided the State President to set out specific rural and urban areas exclusively for ownership and occupation by members of particular racial groups: whites, colored, and indians. There were no areas designated specifically for black South Africans who were prohibited from occupying or owning land in areas designated for other groups.
                  By the 1980s, the legislative acts discussed above had geographically separated white and nonwhite South Africans, and effected a large-scale dispossession of land by blacks. The legislation accomplished this separation and dispossession through the group areas system, dividing blacks and whites in both rural and urban locations.14 The acts also created several types of areas reserved solely for black South Africans. Four such areas were rural: the independent homelands of Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Ciskei, and Venda. Other homelands included the self-governing although not independent homelands, or national states of Kandebele, Lebowa, KaNgwane, KwaZulu, Gazankulu, Quaqua, and a group consisting of black reserves or scheduled areas, and black-owned released areas or Trust-owned areas outside the homelands.15 The basic notion underlying the creation of homelands and national states from the former South African reserves was that black South Africans could be denied equality within South Africa proper if they were citizens of their own ethnically defined states rather than the Republic of South Africa. The government also had two other objectives in promoting the Bantustan Strategy: to divide the population into smaller, more easily controlled units that would prelude the development of black unity; and to gain a modicum of international support by casting the policy as one of internal decolonization.16 Conditions in the homelands were problematic from the beginning. Scarcity of land exacerbated poverty. Homeland unemployment was estimated at around 50%, with 80% of all households living below the generally accepted poverty line. A 1987 survey of rural Bantustan households, conducted by the private relief organization, Operation Hunger, found that 56.6% of all children were undernourished. Malnutrition in South Africa’s rural areas, the study concluded, was worse than in many other countries in the region.17 These were the conditions that the administration of President Mandela inherited.

    The Proposals for Land Reform

                Nearly every political organization of any significance contributed to this important debate, either in general fashion or concrete proposals. The National Party Leadership, the most powerful business organization, argued that any land reform, while involving a deracialization must nevertheless preserve the existing commercial agricultural sector and safeguard the existing (white) property rights.18 This view, supported by the Inkatha Freedom Party led by Chief Gatsha Buthelezi, was advanced by the white minority regime in its March 1991 “White Paper” on land reform and by the Urban Foundation, a think tank and lobbying institution funded by major corporations and industrialists, in a September 1990 report entitled Rural Development: Towards a New Framework.19 The Urban Foundation report revealed that without some measure of land reform, South Africa’s large landholders might eventually confront much more drastic action by the country’s millions of landless. The report stated that:

            The current racially-divided system of rural development cannot continue into the future….In a context of black “land hunger” it is possible that people could [be] forced to illegally occupy other people’s lands, thereby further complicating the already complex array of conflicting land claims.20

    The report further asserted that the ultimate goal was to attain “a unified, national land market based on secure tenure for all.”21 The government “White Paper” stated along similar lines, “private ownership of land, including agricultural land, is a cornerstone of government policy.”22 With the creation of a land market open to all races, the Foundation expected to see the emergence of a new class of black farmers —but it hastened to add that “the entry of new farmers of all races into commercial agriculture need not displace existing efficient farmers.”23 This was echoed by the Nationalist Party-led government, President De Klerk at a conference addressing white farmers: “I have committed myself to the position that landownership in South Africa will be organized on the basis of kaart en transport (full title deed) and private possession. It is an important principle that we dare not depart from…Your kaart en transport are safe.”24 In contrast, the ANC Land Commission, established in 1990, identified three key aspects of a possible land reform program:

            (1)   return of expropriated land to communities that had suffered from forced removals; (2) protection of occupation rights to prevent further evictions, a measure that would safeguard tenant families and farm workers currently living on white-owned farms, as well as those in the homeland areas threatened by betterment schemes; and (3) establishment of a mechanism, such as a Land Court, to evaluate competing claims to land.25

    The ANC also called for a “program of affirmative action in regard to the acquisition of land for black people and in regard to supporting aspirant black producers.”26 Yet, another black political organization, the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) called for the nationalization of all land, with compensation paid to former land-owners in the form of interest-bearing government bonds. Similarly, one of the progressive black groups, the Azanian People’s Organization (AZAPO), argued that “land distribution will have to be radical if it is to constructively and adequately address the problems facing the vast majority…It is clear that because land is the primary means of production, it belongs to the people and cannot become the property of individuals. Those using the land would pay rent to the national treasury.”27 Indeed, individual freehold title, traditional communal tenure, and state ownership were all considered valid options, depending on the particular area’s history of land use and struggles for land rights, as well as the aspirations of those actually working the land.28 But in the end, following the April 1994 electoral triumph of Mandela-led ANC, the market approach to land reform as advocated by the white minority and supported by the international community including the United States and its allies, was adopted as the most viable alternative. Therefore, due to internal and external constraints and in order to meet its negotiated constitutional obligation of “fair compensation” for white landholders, the ANC, upon assumption of power, turned to the World Bank for assistance. However, the Bank insisted that

            most reforms in South Africa will occur as a result of redistribution and not restoration. Pointing to examples such as Zimbabwe, where investor confidence has been reportedly affected by government interference in fixing land prices and designating zones for resettlement, the Bank argues for a market based land redistribution program in South Africa.29 

    That position of the Bank had contributed to the intransigence of the white minority farmers and made it difficult for the ANC to fulfill its promise of redistributing “30% of the agricultural land in 1999.”30 

    The Problems of Land Reform

                Land reform in South Africa consists of three major programs: land restitution, land redistribution, and the land tenure reform. While the programs are part of a broader land reform program, each of them is aimed at addressing certain specific problem of racial dispossession.

    Land Restitution

                The Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 aims to “provide for the restitution of rights in land” of communities whose land was dispossessed “for the purpose of furthering the objects of any racially based discriminatory law.”31 The restitution is to be achieved through the establishment of a Commission on Restitution of Land Rights and a Land Claims Court. The Land Claims Court is empowered to determine cases of restitution as well as the payment of compensation. The Court is also empowered to determine the form of land title under which restituted land will be held and to adjust the nature of the right previously held by the claimant. It may also order the state to expropriate land to restore land rights to a claimant. In such cases, the owner of such land will be “entitled” to the payment of just and equitable compensation determined either by agreement or by the Court according to the principles laid down in section 28(3) of the Constitution.32 The 1994 Restitution of Land Rights Act is also supposed to open up space for some individuals, groups, and communities to reclaim land from which they were forcibly removed. The restitution package offers other outcomes, however, and can lead to the following: (1) restoration of the land from which claimants were dispossessed; (2) provision of alternative land; (3) payment of compensation; (4) alternative relief excluding a package containing a combination of the above, sharing of the land, or special budgetary assistance such as services and infrastructure development where claimants presently live; or (5) priority access to state resources in the allocation and development of housing and land in the appropriate development program.33 However, a number of questions emerged around the practicalities of land claims, including the potential for their rapid resolution. Claims were to be lodged within three years from 1 May 1995, while a five-year period was provided for the Commission and Court to finalize all claims, and ten years was provided for the implementation of Court orders. On the ground, people were demanding that they be given back their land now. There were concerns about the ability of the Department of Land Affairs to offer the “alternative relief” it promised in light of the huge numbers of claims pouring in. By early 1996, some 2,853 rural and 2,119 urban land claims had been lodged with the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights.34 Restitution and land reform, more broadly, have been severely constrained by the provisions for compensation at market value. Serious concerns have been expressed about the entrenchment of property rights in the new constitution. The case of Mpumalanga (where blacks in the community were not able to purchase the land or provide proofs of land ownership) demonstrates that the conceptions which rural people have of land ownership and property rights throw much doubt on the property-rights clause. Most rural black people have rejected payment of compensation. This is clearly illustrated in the resolution on land restoration taken at the National Land Committee’s Community Land Conference: “Communities who were forcibly removed should have their land and mineral rights returned immediately, unconditionally and at no cost to the community.”35
                  The issue of land is very imperative in South Africa because over 60% of the black population live in the rural areas and many of the people are women. The situation raises the question of gender relations and access to land. As in the case of the majority of Sub-Saharan land tenure systems, women’s access to land is tenuous and contingent upon husbands and/or male kin. The Land Claims Court is empowered to influence land rights on restituted land and to take steps to ensure that:

            all the disposed members of the community concerned shall have access to the land or compensation in question, on a basis which is fair and non-discriminatory towards any person, including a woman and a tenant, and which ensures the accountability of the person who holds the land or compensation on behalf of the Community to the members of such a community.36

                The ANC’s Reconstruction and Development Program adopted as a post-apartheid development guideline for policy-makers and politicians all across South Africa’s vast political horizon not only embodies the nondiscrimination of all South Africans but also recognizes the problems of black women’s land rights. It states that: “institutions, practices and laws that discriminate against women’s access to land must be reviewed and brought in line with national policy. In particular, tenure and matrimonial laws must be revised appropriately.”37 While the policy is commendable, it must be pointed out that black women cannot be guaranteed their rights through legislation or policy alone; they can only realize their rights to land through organizations aimed at ending their oppression. No such organizations presently exist.
                 Land rights are fundamental to an understanding of black women’s oppression in the South African countryside. The evolution of customary tenure from colonial times to the present has meant that land is allocated to only heads of household through the practice of owing allegiance to chiefs whose eldest sons are the major beneficiaries. Conditions also exist for the judiciary to intersect with customary legal processes affecting land in order to contest gender discrimination. The most unfortunate thing about gender discrimination is that more than 50% of the population of South Africa are women, and the majority of them are poor black women residing in the suburban and rural areas as squatters.
                 Participation by institutions or organizations for reforms can be effective if they are developed at the grassroots. This can be achieved through mobilization and organization of social forces. Although the ANC has been sensitive to women’s issues and guaranteed 30% representation for women on its parliamentary lists, it has not mobilized grassroots organizations for women.38 Perhaps, the fact that women have significant representation in the parliament may have drained the women’s movement of some of its most dynamic leadership. As ANC’s Member of Parliament, Jenny Schreiner, has aptly put it:

            Part of our problem is that we have failed to take gender into the mainstream of politics. (That voice) has been replaced by strong women’s lobbies and voices heard at the policy-making level, which means we are empowering each other instead of women at the grassroots. It’s elitist.39

                Indeed, one of the challenges of the “new democratic” dispensation in South Africa is how to overcome this elitist tendency and mount an organized onslaught on gendered access to land. It seems that this can only be accomplished through a mobilization of forces at the grassroots level. With 70% of poor people in South Africa residing in rural areas, improving agricultural productivity becomes crucial though not necessarily a sufficient condition for the eradication of rural poverty. Nonetheless, smallholder agriculture is paramount to employment, human welfare, and political stability. Furthermore, as Eicher and Rukuni have suggested, “smallholder agriculture can moderate the rural exodus, create growth linkages and enlarge the market for industrial goods.”40 Therefore, the necessity to make land available for smallholder farmers is a prima facie of any rural development. And the need to include not just black men but also black women who have been tilling the land in the transformation is paramount.

    Land Redistribution

                The stated purpose of the Land Redistribution Program is to provide the poor with access to land for residential and productive uses in order to improve their income and quality of life. This program focuses attention on the poor, labor tenants, farm workers, women, and emergent farmers. The program is based on government assistance to the aforementioned categories of people to access land. It is based on a willing buyer and a willing seller. The government provides the eligible categories of people monetary grants to purchase land. These people are expected to pool together their grant money to purchase land jointly. The “pooling together” is a consequence of the grant being small and the land not available in small parcels. The major concern of the program is on productive use of land as reflected in the requirements for business plans. The grant money can also be used to foot the start-up costs for productive projects and infrastructure programs. The amount of grant available to eligible people was fixed at R16000.00 (approximately US $1,600.00).41
                  The program for Land Redistribution obtains its mandate from section 25(5) of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. Much of the roughly 73% of the land controlled by the white minority is supposed to be redistributed under the scheme which merely offers a possibility but certainly not a realistic approach. Redistribution of land through the market is problematic in two ways: it ignores the lack of purchasing power of blacks and more importantly, it is a blatant disregard for history because blacks are essentially asked to buy back what had been wrestled from them by force. The land market approach also overlooks another fundamental tenet of “property rights” law in South Africa that had historically been applied with double standards. In fact, the existing white title deeds are:

            the result of a system of property law which prohibited blacks from buying land, leasing land, or protecting what land they had. Property law legalized forced removals, farm evictions, and the expropriation of land in the public interest. Political considerations of race have overridden the sanctity of private property for decades.42

    Another problem of the market approach to land is that it creates an opening for only a small minority of blacks, leaving the majority land-hungry, and if that class of small black farmers becomes established entrepreneurs, they would soon develop a stake in the system and serve as a buffer against popular demands for a more sweeping redistribution.
                 Although land redistribution is preached by the ANC, the record of land redistribution by the black majority government is abysmal. Table VIII—Transferred Projects, 1994–97—shows that little progress has been made regarding land redistribution since the Land Reform Pilot Program aimed at developing equitable and sustainable mechanisms of land redistribution in rural areas was launched in 1994. The table also shows that out of the nine regions in South Africa, the government made little progress in terms of land redistribution in the KwaZulu-Natal (9.22 hectares per beneficiary household) and Northern Cape (34.76 per beneficiary household). The relatively successful land redistribution effort in KwaZulu-Natal region is not surprising given the fact that the area is predominantly inhabited by Zulus, the foremost ethnic group in South Africa. But looking at the total land transferred since 1994, the figure is a disappointingly low.


    Transferred Projects Between 1994-97

    Province Number of Hectares Projects Households Hectare Hectares

    Eastern Cape 6,215.95 9 3,198 690.55 1.94
    Free State 13,649.17 19 1,217 719.38 11.22
    Gauteng 247.00 4 3,383 61.75 0.07
    KwaZulu-Natal 47,202.00 28 5,118 1,685.79 9.22
    Mpumalanga 17,432.24 12 3,487 1,452.69 5.00
    North Cape 71,643.11 7 2,061 10,234.73 34.76
    Northern Province 3,477.11 7 2,061 10,234.73 34.76
    Northwest 973,12 3 918 334.37 1.06
    Western Cape 643.41 2 344 321.21 1.87
    South Afria 161,317.85 88 16,918 1,833.16 9.54

    Source: Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, Department of Land Affairs, South Africa, 2000

            Table IX—Rural Immovable Land Transfers Between 1994–97—illustrates this disappointment. The table shows that the total land redistribution transfer to date is roughly 1.3%. Since redistribution is the major aspect of the land reform program, it is reasonable to say that the land reform program is far from achieving its target of redistributing 30% of the total available farmland promised by the black majority rule under the ANC leadership. If the present trend continues, it will take over thirty years for the government to achieve its goal. It is unreasonable to expect the dispossessed blacks who had endured many decades of oppression and exploitation in South Africa to wait any longer.


    Rural Immovable Land Transfers Between 1994-97

      Number of Transfers Area (ha) Average Area per Transfer (ha)

    Private Transfers 28,748 (99.7) 14,725,733 (98.9) 512.2
    Redistribution Transfer 88 (0.3) 162,317 (1.1) 1833.2
    All Transfers 28,836 14,888,090 516.3

    Source: Central Statistics Serivces, Transfers of Rural Immovable Properties, 2000

                  The sentiments expressed by members of the Transvaal Rural Action Group (TRAG) at a meeting held in Soweto are typical of the view held by many of the people who are expected to benefit from the land redistribution exercise.
                 When talking about land, we must remember that the land was taken from the black people—300 years of dispossession have left us without land…[The government says we should have a free market, that we have to buy land. Why should we buy the land which was stolen from us in the first place?]
                 Apartheid has made us poor and we cannot afford to buy the land. The government must give us back the land. What we demand is that the government must give land back to the people, all the people, not just a few rich [black] people.43
                 This is the sort of backdrop against which current problem of land redistribution should be viewed. As a consequence of the government’s inability to meet the demands of the dispossessed landless through the market system, increasing number of homeless black people who are left with no other choice are invading any unoccupied land. The most notable case was the Bredell Land invasion. In July 2001, the ANC government failed its first major test by using force to disperse the squatters,44 many of whom voted for the party in the hope of a new lease of life after apartheid. Ironically, the ANC government, now under President Thabo Mbeki leadership, responded the same way that the white minority regime under apartheid system would have responded without providing an alternative to the squatters. In a face saving move, the ANC government, still unable to grasp the frustration and anger of the people, blamed the Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) for inciting the homeless to invade land. This is absurd and irresponsible! What are the other choices if the “willing seller” of land is not willing to sell or if the “willing buyer” of land does not have the purchasing power to do so? As Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC Secretary-General and Chief Political Negotiator, has noted at a conference in Johannesburg on land distribution option:

            Most of us in the leadership have an urban bias. We belong to the towns and have a deep sense of involvement with the urgent problems of the cities. The land question appears so difficult, so laden with emotion, so ridden with layers of competing interests, that we wait for a more convenient time to deal with it.45

    Against this backdrop it is easy to see why the ANC government has not done much to redistribute land to the vastly poverty-stricken, rural residents, many of whom depend on subsistence farming to sustain themselves. The government cannot be sluggish on the issue of land for such inaction will lead to Zimbabwe being revisited. Already, South Africa has now countless squatter camps including Mandela, Winnie Mandela, Slovo Park and Chris Hani Camps.46 While the homeless seek for refuge in squatter camps as a temporary measure, this cannot be a long term solution. It is the responsibility of the government to provide the basic necessities of life including shelter to the dispossessed people.

    Land Tenure

                Land tenure is defined as the terms and conditions on which land is held, used and transacted, or transmitted. Tenure reform is a planned change in the terms and conditions under which people hold, use, and transact land.47 Tenure reform deals with people who currently occupy and use the land and all other conditions related to that. To this extent it is different from both land redistribution and land restitution. It is dynamic and is impacted upon by a number of factors including population pressures, changes in the economy, and commercialization of agriculture.
                 The current focus of tenure reform is the extension of security of tenure to people and communities who occupy and use land in the communal areas. Although attempts at tenure reform began before the advent of the new political dispensation, there was a problem with its fixation on the individualism of tenure in communal areas. The ill-conceived approach would have led to enormous social dislocation on communal land. The current measure is contained in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa in section 26(6) which provides that “a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled to the extent provided an Act of Parliament, either to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.”48 Most of the land that the people in communal areas occupy and use is registered in the name of the state. This is a legacy of colonial past wherein most land occupied by black people was designated as Crown land. It has since then, in terms of various proclamations and practices, been recognized and understood to belong to the successors in title of the British Crown that is now the South African State. The bulk of communal land is in areas which were set aside for black people in terms of the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts; it comprises just 13% of the South African land surface.49 Under the Land Acts, black people were not allowed to own or have the land registered in their own names. They could only hold land in terms of weak forms of tenure that were legally insecure. The land in these areas was registered as being “held in trust” for specific ethnic groups.
                 The case of “betterment planning” which was hailed as the savior of rural development and meant to introduce development in communal areas left feelings of bitterness and resentment. The “betterment planning” which was a major project under the apartheid regime was the major cause of land dispossession and poverty in the rural South Africa today. In fact, the policy of forced removals and clearing of “black spots” not only generated bitterness and resentment on the part of those forcibly removed, but also brought a sense of insecurity for those on whose land the evictees were settled. Such was the case of black people in Doornkop who were uprooted from their ancestral homes and dumped in often-barren reserves designated as “tribal homelands” by successive white minority settler governments between 1961 and 1980. Under the Land Tenure Reform, the destitute and dispossessed blacks are now asked to show proof of land ownership so that they can legally reclaim their land. Unfortunately, most of them did not have title of deeds and, even if they had the title of ownership, the documentation had been destroyed as a result of forced removals. Besides the “black spots” and “betterment planning,” there were also a number of other forced removals in several different categories including homeland consolidation (removals which took place in the course of extending or altering the boundaries of the homelands). Blacks were evicted from white farms, especially after a change of ownership. Claimants under these categories of land reform are having little success in seeking restoration or compensation for land expropriated decades ago. In view of the lack of funds to pursue claims and the inability of the government to render meaningful assistance to the claimants, the majority of the aggrieved never get to court. In some cases claimants have to rely on the help of the overstretched non-governmental organizations. Only a handful of black people who were forcibly removed can go into business, have the money, clout or know-how to press their claims. The majority black government, however, has power to restore the lands to their rightful owners. It was the state power that was used to dispossess the land from the blacks; therefore, only the state machinery is necessary for the remedy.
                 The land reform problem is further exacerbated by the fact that the system of land administration has tended to collapse in most areas. In some cases, records can no longer be traced, and in other cases, the records are no longer maintained and updated. This makes it difficult to have accurate statistical data as to the number of claims settled under the land tenure reform.


                We have attempted to present the problems of reforming education and redistribution of land with the concomitant politics extant in post-apartheid South Africa. We must admit that the task of attempting to analyze the various processes which enter into transforming an educational system vis-à-vis land redistribution characterized by disproportionate dominance by the minority whites has been, and remains, a daunting one. How do you correct the legacy of benign neglect in the past when facing resistance from the economically well-established white elites? More importantly, how can meaningful changes be made through the negotiated settlement that established a Constitution that adheres to a market mechanism for both the transformation of education and the redistribution of land? The Constitution sets the parameters in which all the key actors function.
                 There is little evidence that the ANC, since its electoral triumphs, has been able to transform its radical view during the process of national liberation into practical realities. Implementations of policies have been met with constitutional, local, and global constraints. The World Bank’s argument for a market based land redistribution program as a condition for lending money to the majority government enhances the bargaining power of the white farmers and thereby making it difficult for any effective land redistribution under the existing policy. More and more people are losing hope that the ANC will ever deliver on its promise to give land to the masses. Consequently, people are taking the initiative to find land themselves. While one does not want to condone this action, it is entirely understandable that people are angry and frustrated. What then can be done?
                 Two steps are recommended for the ANC government to take in order to redistribute land without further delay.

    •     The constitutional constraint of market approach to land redistribution can be overcome by imposing reasonable taxation on rural immovable properties.

    •     Revenues generated from the taxation on rural immovable properties can be used to assist the dispossessed landless people to pursue their land claims.

                If that fails, the other viable option left for the government is the expropriation of land. The aim of land reform is to create a stable and fair system of property rights. It cannot achieve this by allowing a minority to continue to control over 70% of the land while the majority is left with less than 30%. The problem of overcrowding, as well as overlapping rights, must be dealt with squarely. As the United Democratic Movement succinctly puts it: “The homeless and destitute of South Africa have for far too long been marginalized.”50 As Petros Nkosi, a rural community leader in the Southeastern Transvaal, conclusively affirms:

            The land is our whole lives, we plough it for food, we build our homes from the soil, we live on it and we are buried in it. When the whites took our land away from us we lost the dignity of our lives. We could no longer feed our children. We were forced to be servants, we are treated like animals…. In everything we do we must remember that there is only one aim and one solution and that is the land, the soil, our world.51

    Nkosi understands that land is the most important factor of production. Everything we do takes place on the land. It is as important as education, if not more.
                 While recognizing that some changes have been made on the contentious issue of education by the ANC government, we believe that the government has not gone far enough in the transformation process. Under the apartheid white minority government, we must remember that education was free and compulsory for whites and white schools received well-funded state grants and subsidies. Therefore, reductions in budget deficits must not now be accomplished at the expense of the social sector, particularly in the area of education. Efforts must be made to ensure that a large portion of the total government outlays is devoted to the social sector. To bridge the gaps between the education of whites and blacks, we recommend the following:

    •     Free education should not be limited to the age of sixteen, but should include institutions of higher learning.

    •     The government should provide scholarships, fellowships and very limited repayable loans to students in higher education on the basis of financial needs.

    The apartheid system was the most brutal form of exploitation and oppression found anywhere in the world. Its legacy is still being felt daily by millions of black workers throughout South Africa who are living as squatters in shacks in suburban areas, traveling long distances, paid starvation wages and denied their legal rights to reclaim the land of their ancestors. There are also millions of people who are homeless and jobless. Yet, the enormous wealth produced by black labor is still being used under the black majority rule to prop up privileges of a white minority who live in a lifestyle unequaled anywhere in the world. That cannot be allowed to continue.
                 Constitutionally, there is generally a paradigm shift in South Africa. The overt discriminatory aspects of the apartheid system have been dismantled, and continue to be eradicated, but the covert aspects of the nefarious system remain very much intact. The ANC government is still engaged in politics of symbol. The reliance on symbolism in galvanizing or mobilizing support against the evils of apartheid system worked well during the national liberation process; however, the ongoing rhetoric about change, even in the face of demonstrated setbacks (as in the cases of educational deficiencies and landlessness of black majority) is a recipe for a chain of reactions the end of which no one can predict. This is why the ANC government must seriously address the concerns of the marginalized South Africans by shifting away, not just superficially, from the old paradigm of disempowering, close, discriminatory and fragmented South Africa to a society that is democratic, open, empowering and integrated.
                 More than anything else, educational opportunities for all and land redistribution are still the most pressing needs of the black population in South Africa. The problems of joblessness and homelessness are accentuated by the lack of educational skills caused by the infamous apartheid system. Land seizure by squatters and even attacks against white farmers reminiscent of Zimbabwe are already occurring. But the ANC government can avert the situation if the will to act is there. Is there the will to act? It remains to be seen!


    1. African Research Group, Race to Power: The Struggle for Southern Africa (New York: Anchor Books, 1974), pp. 14–15. (Back to Paragraph)

    2. Charles R. M. Dlamini, “The Transformation of South Africa Universities,” South Africa Journal of Higher Education 9 (1995): 41–42. (Back to Paragraph)

    3. Human Resource Development Strategy for South Africa, “A Nation at Work for Better Life for All,” Human Sciences Research Council (2000), p. 7. (Back to Paragraph)

    4. Ibid., pp. 8–9.(Back to Paragraph)

    5. Ibid., p. 9.

    6. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    7. Jonathan D. Jansen and Yusuf Sayed, eds., Implementing Education Policies: The South African Experience (Cape Town, South Africa: University of Cape Town Press 2001), p. 25. (Back to Paragraph)

    8. Ibid., p. 26.  (Back to Paragraph)

    9. Ibid. (Back to Paragraph)

    10. Frederick A. Johnstone, Class, Race and Gold: A Study of Class Relations and Racial Discrimination in South Africa (London: Rutledge & Kegan Paul, 1976), p. 27.  (Back to Paragraph)

    11. Ernest Harsch, Apartheid’s Great Land Theft: The Struggle for the Right to Farm in South Africa (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1986), pp. 10–13.  (Back to Paragraph)

    12. Kema Irogbe, “Land Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa: On Whose Terms,” p. 4. Paper presented at the 17th National Third World Studies Conference. University of Nebraska at Omaha, 13–16 October 1994.  (Back to Paragraph)

    13. Monica Wilson and Leonard Thompson, eds., The Oxford History of South Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 130.  (Back to Paragraph)

    14. Ibid., pp. 130–31.  (Back to Paragraph)

    15. See Group Areas Act of 36 of 1996; Free Settlement Areas Act 102 of 1988.  (Back to Paragraph)

    16. Catherine Coles, “Land Reform for Post-Apartheid South Africa,” Boston College Environment Affairs Law Review 20 (Summer 1993): 716.  (Back to Paragraph)

    17. Ibid., pp. 716–17.  (Back to Paragraph)

    18. Weekly Mail (Johannesburg), 18 September 1987.  (Back to Paragraph)

    19. Ernest Harsch, “Land Reform in South Africa,” TransAfrica Forum 8 (Winter 1991–92), pp. 26–27.  (Back to Paragraph)

    20. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    21. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    22. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    23. Republic of South Africa, Pretoria, “White Paper on Land Reform,” 11 March 1991, p.13.  (Back to Paragraph)

    24. Harsch, “Land Reform in South Africa,” p. 27.  (Back to Paragraph)

    25. Weekly Mail, 14 September 1990.  (Back to Paragraph)

    26. Harsch, “Land Reform in South Africa,” p. 32.  (Back to Paragraph)

    27. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    28. Observer (London), 6 January 1991.  (Back to Paragraph)

    29. Harsch, “Land Reform in South Africa,” p. 32.  (Back to Paragraph)

    30. Anne Shepherd, “The Land Inequity,” Africa Report 39 (January–February 1994), p. 65.  (Back to Paragraph)

    31. Harsch, “Land Reform in South Africa,” p. 32.  (Back to Paragraph)

    32. Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act (1994), Act No. 22.  (Back to Paragraph)

    33. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    34. Department of Land Affairs, Our Land: Green Report on South Africa Land      Policy (1996), p. 38.  (Back to Paragraph)

    35. Report from the Community Land Conference (12 and 13 February 1994), p.12.  (Back to Paragraph)

    36. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    37. Richard Levin, “Land Restitution and Democracy,” in The Struggles for Land in Mpumalanga, South Africa, ed. Richard Levin and Daniel Weiner (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, Inc., 1997), p. 247.  (Back to Paragraph)

    38. African National Congress, The Reconstruction and Development Program (Johnannesburg: Umanyamano Publications, 1994), p. 21.  (Back to Paragraph)

    39. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    40. Weekly Mail and Guardian, 5–11 May 1995, p. 8.  (Back to Paragraph)

    41. C. K. Eicher and M. Rukuni, “Reflections on Agrarian Reform and Capacity Building in South Africa,” Staff Paper No. 96-3, Department of Agricultural Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, 2000.  (Back to Paragraph)

    42. Sibongile Makopi, “Awards to Provide Security of Tenure and Comparable Redness,” p. 3. Paper prepared for the Land and Agrarian Conference, Co-hosted by the Program for Land and Agrarian Studies (University of Western Cape) and the National Land Committee (July 1999).  (Back to Paragraph)

    43. Aninka Claassens, “Enter the Black Middle Class Farmer,” Work in Progress (Johannesburg), no. 70 (November–December 1990), p. 48.  (Back to Paragraph)

    44. Kingston Nyamapfene, “A Contribution to the Proposed Land Reform Framework for South Africa,” Department of Agronomy, University of Port Hare, 1993.  (Back to Paragraph)

    45. Business Day, 13 July 2001.  (Back to Paragraph)

    46. Ibid.  (Back to Paragraph)

    47. Makopi, “Awards to Provide Security,” p. 4.  (Back to Paragraph)

    48. Ibid., p. 6.  (Back to Paragraph)

    49. Ibid., p. 5.  (Back to Paragraph)

    50.  South Africa Rapidly Evicts Squatters,” 12 July 2001.  (Back to Paragraph)

    51. Kema Irogbe, “South Africa in Transition: An Analysis of Economic and Political Development,” p. 6. Paper delivered at the Annual National Conference of Black Political Scientists in Jackson, Mississippi, 13–16 March 1991.  (Back to Paragraph)

    Volume XIV

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