Suffering from wars of land dispossession, which was consolidated through a series of segregation laws such as the 1913 Land Act, black peasants were effectively turned into rural labourers to serve the interests of the mines and commercial farms.
Writing on these developments Govan Mbeki described the impoverishment in the former Transkei and Ciskei where a principle of one man, one allotment was applied and how these processes severely undermined the food production capabilities of the peasant population.
Sadly, there is no visible attempt to transform these settlement and production patterns and help to stem the tide of poverty engulfing the former bantustans. Notwithstanding the global economic crisis that characterises the world today, the government continues with failed economic policies that have resulted in deepening poverty, unemployment and inequality since 1996.
The government has not charted a different path to rural development that could take the rural poor out of poverty.
Despite the government's pronouncement of the recapitalisation programme, many of the farmers have yet to experience the implementation of that policy. This is also true in the case of the food security programme, which is supposed to provide relief from the water costs of small scale producers. For example, some food production initiatives like community gardens have had their water cut off despite their contribution to food security.
The rural poor have not been helped to recover from the drought of the early 1980s that virtually destroyed their livestock and crops. Their response has been to switch from production to increased migration in search of employment.
Major government development plans, priorities and spending reinforces colonial and apartheid development patterns. …