Land Reform and Traditional Leadership in South Africa

What does King Goodwill Zwelithini’s new claim on the land of KwaZulu-Natal portend for land reform in South Africa?

29 September 2014, Wits Club

Land reform is a highly politicized and racially charged issue that continues to dominate South African politics and public debate. But rural land reform has the added dimension of tribalism, a medieval patriarchal and undemocratic system of governance super-imposed on an already complicated land development and social justice problem. Recently public debate has been further inflamed by King Goodwill Zwelithini’s decision to lodge South Africa’s largest land claim ever, which is said to cover all of the land in the province of KwaZulu-Natal that does not already belong to the king.

SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation invite you to a panel discussion on rural land reform with a special focus on traditional authorities and their impact on access to land and economic opportunities for South Africa’s rural poor, notably rural women.

Are South Africans heading for a future where traditional authorities have a monopoly on the ownership of rural land?

How does the traditional model of governance affect women’s land rights?

How can rural women become landowners?

What should the basis of a democratic, fair and sustainable rural land reform policy be?

Join us as we engage in a debate and discussion of these crucial questions with our esteemed panel of experts.

Date: Monday, 29 September 2014

Time: 13h00 to 17h00
(Starting with registration and lunch from 13h00 to 14h00)

Venue: The Wits Club, Wits University, Johannesburg. Enter on Yale Road off Empire Road.

Admission: Free

RSVP: To book a seat at this event please send an email with your name, affiliation and contact details to with "RSVP Land Reform/Traditional Leaders" in the subject line of your email message. Please book early to avoid disappointment.

Sizani Ngubane
Sizani Ngubane founded the Rural Women's Movement (RWM) in KwaZulu-Natal sixteen years ago and under her leadership it has grown to a membership of nearly 50 000. Sizani has inspired thousands of rural women to become part of RWM with a vision to build a vibrant movement. Her stance has always been apolitical although she has pushed to have more women elected to decision-making bodies including Local and National Government. Part of the work she does is to train the rural women for such responsibilities.  

Mazibuko Jara
Mazibuko Jara is an Executive Director of Ntinga Ntaba ka Ndoda, a community-controlled organization that works in 13 villages in Keiskammahoek south in Amathole district. He also works as a research associate at the UCT Law, Race and Gender Research Unit his research focus is on rights of women to land, rural governance and traditional leaders. His particular academic interests include post-apartheid agricultural policy and political economy of food production. Mazibuko is also a founder and spokesperson of the Democratic Left Front. He previously held positions in the SACP, YCL, the Treatment Action Campaign and the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality.

Ben Cousins
Professor Ben Cousins holds a DST/NRF Chair in Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape. He holds a DPhil from the University of Zimbabwe, and was in exile between 1972 and 1991. His interests are land and agrarian reform, common property regimes, livestock production and smallholder agriculture.


Nomboniso Gasa
Nomboniso Gasa is a researcher, analyst and public speaker on gender, politics and culture. She weaves together her academic background, lived experience and constant engagement with contemporary and historical South African issues. Her work is in scholarly journals, in local and international print, electronic and audio-visual media.  She has featured in international documentaries. She is a Senior Research Associate at the Centre for Law and Society, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town. Her focus is on the intersection of land, living custom, the construction of identities and Traditional Leadership.

This event is being co-hosted by The South African Civil Society Information Service and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung South Africa Office.