The Land-Grabbing Debacle: An Analysis of South Africa and Senegal
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The Land-Grabbing Debacle: An Analysis of South Africa and Senegal


In Africa, land tenure and ownership are crucial to food production, family structure, individual and collective identity, and social and economic development. However, the black majorities in South Africa and in Senegal have long been deprived of land through the land-grabbing practices of colonial-era settlers and foreign interests, which have resulted in homelessness, insecure land tenure, and the undermining of personal and collective identities. Government land-redistribution efforts either remain stagnant or occur too slowly to help currently landless individuals. This has led to a new land-grabbing phenomenon where Africans reclaim land by illegally occupying, and building shacks on, state-owned land. Such land-grabbing has caused government conflicts with residents and has resulted in apartheid-style evacuations, which have left people homeless and functionally landless. In this context, the question of majority land-access has reemerged. South Africa’s and Senegal’s constitutions stipulate access to secure land tenure and, if adequately applied, could help reduce urbanization and boost economic activity and agricultural production. This article demonstrates how land is crucial to a country’s economic development and to its efforts to reduce poverty among its citizens...

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