The Atlantic

South Africa Confronts a Legacy of Apartheid

Why land reform is a key issue in the upcoming election
Source: Shaun Swingler

ZOLANI, South Africa—On the outskirts of this overcrowded township in South Africa’s Cape Winelands, Phumlani Zota, a 32-year-old pig farmer, sifted through piles of waste in a refuse dump beneath the Langeberg mountains, filling a burlap sack with scraps of food for his livestock. “There is not enough land here,” he told me.

Yet on all sides, the impoverished settlement was hemmed in by great tracts of white-owned farmland, neat rows of fruit trees and grapevines punctuated by ornate Cape Dutch architecture.

The disjuncture is jarring, but mirrored all over South Africa. During apartheid, Zolani was designated a “blacks only” area by the Group Areas Act, one of about two dozen federal policies that dramatically restricted black South Africans’ access to land and opportunity. Today, the township stands as contemporary evidence of the wholesale land dispossessions carried out by successive colonial regimes, from the 17th century until as recently as the 1980s.

According to a by the South African government, 72 of the total population. Since the ruling African National Congress came to power in 1994, under the stewardship of Nelson Mandela, one of its central undertakings has been to relieve this disparity. But to date, the spotty efficacy of the ANC’s land-restitution efforts has seen of such land restored to black farmers, according to the farmers’ organization AgriSA.

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