The limits to land reform: reviewing ‘the land question’
That the land question was one of the driving forces of the liberation struggle was a viewpoint that Hanekom shared with most ANC supporters, including many who did not depend directly on the land for survival. It is a position that many, if not most, black people still endorse today, even though the evidence points to a far greater concern with jobs, housing and the provision of basic services as immediate priorities in people’s day-to-day lives. (A 1999 survey found only 1,3% of South African respondents listing land among the top three problems that the government should address, yet a 2001 survey found 68% of black respondents agreeing with the statement that ‘Land must be returned to blacks in South Africa, no matter what the consequences are for the current owners and for political stability’(Aliber and Mokoena, 2003:
342, 344).) The inability of the state’s land reform programme to transfer more than three per cent of the country’s farm land to black ownership over the past nine years is seen not simply as a failure in land policy but, more fundamentally, as a failure to transform the very nature of society - to address black claims to full citizenship, through land ownership, and to make amends for the insults to human dignity that black people have suffered as a collectivity through forced removals in the past.