Several researchers in the REDI3x3 project focused on poverty in rural areas in the Eastern Cape, which contains two former apartheid homelands, the Ciskei and the Transkei. This article analyses the main messages of this research, highlighting the negative impact of poor land governance and uncertainty of tenure; knock-on effects are apparent in areas like Hout Bay and Marikana. [An edited version of this article appeared in Business Day on 10 November 2017. See references.]
Renewed emphasis in policy discourses on systematic land titling to solve insecure tenure in South Africa is understandable. A staggering two thirds of the citizenry hold off-register land rights. Converting these rights to title deeds may seem self-evident, but our research reveals major stumbling blocks. For a system of land records to succeed, its design must take into account well understood and familiar local and customary processes for holding, using and transmitting land in urban and rural areas.