Land Conference South Africa 2022: The failed promise of tenure security - Customary rights and dispossession | Land Portal
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The Legal Resources Centre (LRC) is South Africa’s largest public interest, human rights law clinic. Established in 1979, we use the law as an instrument of justice for the vulnerable and marginalised, including poor, homeless and landless people.

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Thank you for your interest in the Land Conference 2022 – The Failed Promise of Tenure Security: Customary Land Rights and Dispossession and thank you for registering for the conference. We have had an overwhelming interest in the conference and we are excited at the prospect of rich conversation and engagement.

The vision for this conference is that it will be a hybrid event with both a virtual and in person component that will allow participation from across urban and rural areas in South Africa and beyond. In order to make this possible the organisers have taken the decision to postpone the conference to allow more time to organise the type of event that will facilitate the widest possible participation.

The new dates for the conference will be communicated shortly. We apologise for the inconvenience that this postponement may cause you and we hope that it will not dull your interest in this conference.

Leading organisations in the South African land sector including the  Legal Resources Centre (LRC), the Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC), the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) and the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) invites you  to join them  in February for a hybrid land conference. This seeks to inform and enrich the public conversation about land tenure rights, ongoing threats to these rights, and the urgent need for state intervention to protect and enhance land tenure security in line with the Constitution.

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Conference Information

Twenty-five years after South Africa’s Constitution was adopted the 18 million South Africans living in the former homelands have limited recognition of their tenure security, land and livelihood rights. Instead, their customary and informal land rights are directly and systematically under threat from government laws, policies and practices that abrogate these rights. Inadequate tenure security also impacts on the outcome of the redistribution and restitution programmes as beneficiaries are often unable to defend the land rights they acquire against predatory elites and find themselves threatened with exclusion.

This Conference seeks to inform and enrich the public, academic and political discourse about land tenure rights, ongoing threats to these rights, and the urgent need for legal measures to protect and enhance tenure security in line with the Constitution. It seeks to understand the dynamics of past and current contestations over property and authority in the former homelands and on land reform land, and the vested interests at stake. It interrogates how and why the state has (again) chosen to pursue policies and enact legislation that favours particular elites, including traditional leaders. It seeks to engage with, and contribute to strategies and practices concerning community mobilisation, policy initiatives and litigation approaches that protect and enhance tenure security in the former homelands, South African Development Trust Land and on land reform land more generally.

The conference will be structured around the following themes:

  • Documenting and exposing the scale, nature and impact of past and current threats to tenure security, and/or contestations over property and authority.
  • Examining the place of customary law in the constitutional era and the interface between customary and common law land rights and constructs of ownership in the context of the tenure security promised by section 25(6) of the Constitution. Comparative experience about the status of customary rights from other jurisdictions fits within this theme.
  • Providing and examining past and current evidence of the content and nature of customary land rights to ensure that they are legible and respected within the dominant paradigm of common and statutory law in South Africa or comparative experience of the treatment of customary land rights within dominant legal paradigms in other jurisdictions.
  • Examining mobilisation, policy and/or litigation strategies that have attempted to protect customary and other existing rights from past and current threats.
  • Discussion of alternative policies, practices and laws that give effect to tenure security both in South Africa and in other jurisdictions – particularly examples from the African continent and the global south.

The conference, which takes place on 23 – 25 February 2022, will be a hybrid event and is jointly convened by the Land and Accountability Research Centre (LARC) at UCT, the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) at UWC and the Society, Work and Politics Institute (SWOP) at Wits.

Host Institutions

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