Nourishing rural poverty - South Africa's unchanging land relations
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The South African neo-liberal model of development has overall produced greater social differentiation since the end of apartheid in 1994. This is rooted in the soil of an essentially unchanged land system. Land reform is oriented towards 'deracialising' the commercial farming sector through market-based redistribution, creating a modest opening for black farmers. The overwhelming result has been the continued exclusion of the rural poor population, whose livelihood choices are shrinking from lack of access to land and other resources, including for agriculture and, on a lesser scale, for food production while increasingly they face difficulties selling their labour as low-paid agricultural workers on the white owned farms. Findings are presented from a recent livelihoods study by the Surplus Peoples Project in the West Coast Cape, showing the continuing importance of land for rural households. As globalization and crisis intensify rural poverty, the failure of land reform continues to fuel debates over the feasibility of challenging inherited land ownership structures and carrying out the thoroughgoing transformation that is needed, particularly in light of the ANC's apparent shift in discourse towards building a more developmental state.