Sinethemba Zooms in on Land Reform Post-Settlement Support Challenges

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Ms Sinethemba Zungu received her Master’s in Housing for her research on Post-settlement Support Challenges of Land Reform Housing Beneficiaries: A Case Study of the Oakford Priory Housing Project.‘I have prodigious interest in the land reform programme, and my curiosity as to why it has not been impactful in South Africa is what led me to this research topic.’ 

Zungu identified a policy gap in relation to land reform housing beneficiaries in that no provision is made for Communal Property Associations that would like to construct low income housing on land acquired through land redistribution. 

‘The Oakford Priory Housing project is the first case in KwaZulu-Natal to implement a low-income housing project on land that has undergone land reform. The case study has therefore brought forth a new approach for the sustainable use of such land,’ said Zungu. ‘Designing a joint land redistribution and housing development programme that will accommodate land reform beneficiaries will go a long way in addressing the housing backlog.’ 

She believes that the Oakford Priory Housing Project is effective in addressing the housing backlog in the eThekwini municipality. ‘The integrated programme will help unlock agricultural and economic development for the beneficiaries. Land reform is one of the best tools to address rural poverty in South Africa. Bringing together the land redistribution programme and national housing policies can effectively achieve national housing delivery goals and decrease poverty, while creating economically empowered communities,’ she added. 

Zungu noted that eThekwini does not have a database for land ownership around the study area, and her research will assist in providing such information. The land ownership map provided in her dissertation shows that the Municipality has no records of restituted claims, settled redistribution claims and land for priority redistribution. 

‘eThekwini Municipality can now use the findings of the study in relation to land ownership to update the database, keeping records of beneficiaries who own land, as well as the proportion thereof in ward 59. This information could be useful when planning future housing projects,’ she said. 

Zungu’s father encouraged her to pursue a master’s degree. He passed away during her studies and she dedicated her degree to his memory. 

She thanked her family, friends and supervisor, Dr Sithembiso Myeni, for their support. Zungu now plans to pursue a PhD.

Words: Melissa Mungroo 

Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal