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Publication Details

Reference
Bob, Urmilla & Moodley, Vadi (2005) Community-based Organisations, Sustainable Land Use and Management in Marginalised Communities in KZN. CCS Grant Report : 1-56.

Summary
The question of who gets access to and controls land resources is often highly political and contested. Herweg et al (1999) indicate that the sustainable use of land resources is a precondition for sustainable rural development.

This is even more heightened as the natural resource base becomes increasingly scarce. The South African government in recognising the centrality of land resources in terms of development as well as social redress imperatives have embarked on several programmes such as land redistribution, the Working for Water Programme and Integrated Rural Development. Furthermore, the importance of community participation and empowerment is widely recognised as a contributing factor to environmentally-orientated and sustainable development projects.

Rhetorical support for community participation and empowerment is discernable in nearly all government policy documents. Development in South Africa is generally undertaken to address political, social and economic imperatives.

These directives also frame land reform policies and other programmes in South Africa. The key political objective entails changing power relations, especially in terms of ownership and control patterns, so as to redistribute power in South Africa. The social redress goal is aimed at ensuring redistributive justice. These include access to productive land resources. In terms of the social objectives, access to resources and opportunities to previously disadvantaged groups are also important. The economic objectives promote production and efficiency in terms of the utilisation of land and labour. The latter is particularly centralised within the Growth, Employment and Redistribution (GEAR) strategy. As Sihlongonyane (1997) asserts, development in South Africa is following a market-led reform process which is favoured by international financial institutions and leading industrial powers. Lehulere (1997) supports Sihlongonyane (1997) and argues that GEAR is in many ways a retreat from the transformative agenda and poverty focus initially articulated by the ANC-led government. A major challenge facing policy-makers and development practitioners in South Africa is how to balance these often conflicting development imperatives. Furthermore, there are numerous tensions around institutional structures. This is especially prevalent at community levels where community-based organisations, traditional authorities, local government and other external agencies such as Nongovernmental Organisations (NGOs) compete for influence and power.

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