Deepening South African Democracy in Rural Spaces: The Political Economy of Labour Tenant Claims Resolution
Richard M Levin (Nelson Mandela University) , Mnqobi Ngubane (Nelson Mandela University)

Labour tenants on South African farmland were incorporated into state relations of power as subjects distinctively from the subjects of traditional authorities in the countryside during colonialism and apartheid. Under the current democratic dispensation more than 20,000 ‘former’ labour tenant households lodged land claims against the 500,000 estimated by the NGO community in the 1990s. The resolution of these claims have tested the depth of South African democracy in the Constitutional Court, culminating in the extension of judicial supervision over the executive and administration through the appointment of a Special Master. These developments create possibilities for deepening democracy and progressively realising the socio-economic rights of labour tenant claimants with all their differences in terms of gender, class, and localised notions of ‘insider/outsider’ social relations. Accordingly this paper examines efforts and possibilities for deepening democracy and transformative constitutionalism by way of legal eradication of oppressive social relations remaining on former labour tenant farms, and the attendant unleashing of accumulation from below on the basis of petty commodity production, especially through small scale livestock production. The paper also explores the prospects for successful all-encompassing land reform through a participatory development evaluation discourse and practice.