The Post-Apartheid government inherited South Africa which characterized by extreme racial imbalances epitomized through social relations of land and spatial distortions. Non-white South Africans were (are) victims of the legacy of the Group Areas Act of 1984 that had forcibly displaced “inferior” masses to homelands and non-productive remote areas. It was, therefore, a priority for the incoming democratic government to re-design land reform policies targeted at reversing these colonially fueled spatial distortions. Land was instrumental in energizing peasant participation in liberation struggle and the material expression of liberation was (is) land.South Africa’s overall Land Reform programme constituted by three key elements and namely are; land redistribution, tenure reform and land restitution. Manifold proponents and researchers have denounced and embraced land reform ideology concomitantly. The criticism overlapped towards both beneficiaries and the state due to factors such as poor post-settlement support, lack of skills, lack of capital and equipment and the infighting over land claims and land management. Conversely, land reform has been applauded for widening rural livelihood choices, enhancing rural poverty alleviation, redressing racial imbalances and spurring self-reliance on food production. This is a conceptual paper which seeks to partake in Land Reform discourse by arguing that, the primacy and success of land reform policy in rural development is determined by how the programme is interpreted by the intended beneficiaries and how it conforms and improves their livelihoods, ambitions and goals. In addition, the paper reveals nascent abate of land reform effectuated by multi-facets such as social perceptions of land in South Africa. Therefore, the argument of this paper thrives to exhaustively prove that land reform programme as ideological dimension of rural development needs to secure support from both state and intended beneficiaries in order to give credence to its guiding policies.
Keywords: South Africa, Land reform, Rural development, Land policy