n Ubuntu : Journal of Conflict and Social Transformation - Land policy and human security concerns in Southern Africa : a case study of South Africa and Zimbabwe

Volume 3, Issue 1_2
  • ISSN : 2078-760X
  • E-ISSN: 2050-4950


Food insecurity, poverty and deepening inequality are distinctive features of the global social landscape, especially in the poorer regions. Land is a key asset in sustaining livelihoods in Southern Africa and accounts for a major share of Gross Domestic Product as well as employment. Ironically, the majority of the people in Southern Africa region are landless. Colonial land policies institutionalised racial inequality in access to land in Southern Africa. Recent attempts to confront the consequences of historical land expropriation and redress contemporary inequities and discriminatory legislation and institutions have generated renewed racial conflict in the region and exacerbated insecurity. The objective of human security is protection against chronic threats such as hunger and disease as well as sudden and harmful disruptions in the patterns of daily lives. Land policies are of paramount importance in pursuit of human security. Access to land literally determines who lives or dies. Using South Africa and Zimbabwe as case studies, this article explores post-independence and post-apartheid land policies in Southern Africa. It interrogates the linkage between land policy and human security in order to determine how land policies affect human security. Recent events in both countries - land invasions and economic collapse in Zimbabwe and high rates of unemployment, inequality and poverty in South Africa - attest to the importance of the land issue and clearly spell out the need for land reform. The article demonstrates that Africa's disadvantaged position (in terms of both power and wealth) in the international system has made it difficult for African states to address local or national priorities in terms of access to land.

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