How rural land reform policy translates into benefits
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Land reform policy in South Africa has been strongly criticised, especially its instrumentality. However, recent ethnographic studies indicate that it is a complex and deeply social process in which policy is understood differently by different actors. Rather than asking whether land reform works we should ask how it works. Using a case study of SLAG (Settlement Land Acquisition Grant) redistribution beneficiaries in a southern Cape village, this paper describes how these rural residents interpreted policy and used the resources put at their disposal by the state. These local actors' decisions and actions were based largely on their livelihood
requirements and frequently determined by their historical experiences and social relationships. Although they behaved in ways that were not anticipated by officials, a number have gained tangible benefits. Beneficiary 'success stories' have given credence to the land reform policy, and state officials have responded by continuing to provide support to the project that was the subject of this study.