State neglect and elite capture are the real face of land reform, according to a landmark field study of farms in the Eastern Cape. And though many state officials have visited the area to see the problems at first hand, almost nothing has been done to fix them. The chief finding of the three-year field study by University of the Western Cape (UWC) and Rhodes University researchers is that poor families and communities who have accessed state land are being left with insecure tenure and livelihoods while established agribusiness is cashing in. This makes a mockery of the state’s avowed intent of using land reform to address poverty. "Though the land question has become prominent in the rhetoric of political parties, none of them attend to the urgent challenges that are evident," says one of the researchers, Prof Ruth Hall of the Institute for Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies at UWC. "The contrast between what land reform was meant to produce and what we see on the ground is absolute...

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