The Alleviation of Poverty by Security of Communal Land Tenure: The Land Titling Debate in South Africa

By Gerrit Pienaar.

Published by The Sustainability Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

More than sixteen million people in South Africa (almost a third of the population) practise communal land tenure. Communal land tenure encompasses more than land rights – it is also a cultural and social phenomena. However, it is characterized by lack of secure land rights, inadequate access to land, severe over-population, unproductive farming activities and widespread poverty. Several solutions to these problems are proposed by economists, sociologists and lawyers. This paper deals with the following questions:

1. Would the individualisation of land tenure by a land titling programme, as proposed by the Peruvian economist De Soto, secure land rights, develop land markets, enlarge individualised capital assets, improve agricultural methods and increase commercial institutions’ investment in agricultural enterprises?

2. Sociologists and anthropologists warn against simplified solutions and the breaking down of community structures, which are presently one of the few support mechanisms of many communal societies. The crisp question is whether community structures alone would protect the land rights of communities, increase development and alleviate poverty?

3. Is the titling programme in terms of the Communal Land Rights Act 11 of 2004 a viable solution to the present development problems in rural areas? It is contended that the solution lies in a holistic approach by combining a suitable titling programme for group or communal land rights with protective legislative measures.

Keywords: Communal Land Tenure, Access to Rural Land, Community Structures, Land Titling, Alleviation of Poverty, Economic Aspects of Titling, Social Aspects of Titling

The International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp.49-64. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.219MB).

Prof. Gerrit Pienaar

Academic Professor, Faculty of Law, Northwest University, Potchefstroom, Northwest Province, South Africa

Lecturer at the Northwest University since 1979; associate professor since 1989 and professor since 1991. Obtain LLD in 1988. Co-author of 5 textbooks, 2 case-books and 4 student workbooks, author of 2 monographs and 75 articles published in law journals regarding the law of associations, sectional titles, property law, deeds registration and unjustified enrichment. Visited several universities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States for research purposes and presentation of papers and lectures. Rated researcher at the National Research Foundation of South Africa; received several grants from the National Research Foundation, the Attorneys’ Fidelity Fund and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst for research on projects in South Africa and abroad. Receiver of the CHO-price in 2001 and the Hugo de Groot-price in 2007 (both research related). Project leader of a NRF research project on the alleviation of poverty in the rural areas by security of title (2005-2006). 52 public lectures since 1979 on topics related to the research in respect of legal personality, associations, property law, sectional titles, registration of immovable property, unfair contract terms and sociology of law.


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