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What to do with the chiefs? Revisiting the historical shifts and continuities of rural land administration and tenure systems in the former Transkei of the Eastern Cape, South Africa

Author / Authors:

  • Tanja Winkler



At least seventeen million South Africans live on ‘communal’ landholdings that are held in trust by the state under the custodianship of traditional leaders. Yet, traditional leaders’ land administration powers are undetermined, thereby impeding planning efforts and infrastructure provisions in South Africa’s rural regions. The aim of this article is to revisit the historical shifts and continuities pertaining to rural land administration and tenure systems during successive regimes by focusing on ‘communal’ landholdings in the former Transkei. In so doing it becomes clear how rural regions remain victims of colonial and apartheid land laws despite a quarter of a century of policy redress. Arguably, until decisive answers are established regarding traditional leaders’ land administration powers, residents will continue to live without municipal services and economic opportunities. Similar realities are also found across sub-Saharan Africa. Lessons from the former Transkei might be relevant elsewhere despite situated differences.

Research URL https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/EICEPKVEGMV8NWTXZRN7/full?target=10.1080/13563475.2021.1883420


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