Why should settlers be compensated? Joseph Mudau, ‘Land Expropriation without Compensation in a Former Settler Colony: A Polemic Discourse’, African Renaissance, 18, 3, 2021


Abstract: In geopolitical discourse, monopolistic institutions and developed states continue to compete for Africa’s land and its natural resources. In the 1990s, neoliberal preying and privatisation of state institutions, financialisation of national economies and the silent alienation of land by domestic and foreign capitalists were some of the strategies that exacerbated neoliberalism in the land reform policy in South Africa. Africa’s land question and its socio-economic transformation remain critical in the public discourse that seeks to generate alternative development trajectories, particularly in the context of land reform. Empirical evidence indicates that Africa’s land question has tended to focus on land tenure and livelihoods but hardly on the question of agrarian development and the expropriation of land without compensation. South Africa is no exception. South African history is tainted by the fight over land. The arduous nature of land ownership patterns and the unresolved historic problems have prompted a new debate. Closely related to this debate is the land expropriation without compensation policy. Contemporary scholarship pertaining to the land question in South Africa is underpinned by the identification of areas of discord in the landscape patterns and the different contexts and conditions under which Black rural people live. The land question in South Africa is associated with elements of neoliberalism that benefit the white elite and global capital system. The imprint of forceful removal of natives from their land is indelible, while the legacy of reversing that onerous effects remains questionable. This study is non-empirical in nature and relies on a critical review of the literature as a methodological approach to gathering insights. The objective is to explore how neoliberalism has succeeded in capturing and repacking the South Africa land reform policy and, in the process, tainted the notion of land expropriation without compensation. A summation and conclusion are also provided.

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