After independence, South Africa embarked on a land reform programme that is meant to redress the highly inequitable land ownership which resulted from Apartheid. The programme comprises land redistribution, land restitution and land tenure. On restitution projects, the maintenance of production has been highly problematic. Loss of production means there is very little or no livelihoods impacts from restitution. The beneficiaries of restitution projects usually have neither farming experience nor capital to continue or restart the farm operations. As a result, most restitution projects are either non-functional or are functioning at a meager fraction of previous levels. Most studies on restitution have been carried out by studying the beneficiaries but not previous owners. I use the social constructivist paradigm to explore personal experience through engagement using the interview as a data collection tool. I explore the perspectives of a previous land owner who provides insights into how the restitution programme could be made more successful by letting a conversation occur between the previous owners and beneficiaries. I posit that it is essential to include the previous owners to reduce the trauma from loss of their lifestyle while also reducing beneficiaries’ trauma caused by lack of benefits from restitution.


South Africa, Land Reform, Failure, Trauma, Conversation, Social Constructivism, Experience, Engagement

Author Bio(s)

I have taught Research Methods, Regional and Local Economic Development and Agriculture and Rural Development. I have more than 20 years of research on development issues in Africa, mainly from the Sub-Saharan African countries. I have worked with academics, international and national institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have field experience in design, implementation and analysis of large data sets. I have quantitative analysis skills and both the training and experience of working in multidisciplinary teams. Although having a quantitative background, over time I have developed an appreciation of the strength of the complementarity between quantitative and qualitative research. My research interests are in economic development in general but specifically food security, irrigation development, rice development (in Africa) in so far as these have impact rural development in Africa. Correspondence regarding this article can also be addressed directly to: makombeg@yahoo.com.

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