Phuhlisani is a lean non-profit company with four directors, one member of staff and a network of local and international associates. We summarise our work over the last three years below.
2015 - 2020
Decent work in agriculture
Farm workers have historically been one of the most marginalised and vulnerable worker groups in South Africa. As a whole the agriculture sector in South Africa contracted significantly following deregulation in the 1990s. Subsequent agricultural policies which stripped away state subsidies and support as part of a voluntary structural adjustment programme had the effect of intensifying concentration throughout the industry while undermining the potential for the emergence of a small holder producers. These policies and process have impacted on the nature of work in the sector with the result that many agricultural workers lost permanent jobs to become seasonal or casual labourers who now live off-farm.
In the past two years our work in this sector has included:
Transforming land governance
Phuhlisani has undertaken extensive work for the Land Rights Management Facility. Over the past two years we have provided support to resolve land rights management issues in rural and urban settings. This work has included clarification of land rights in former 'coloured reserves' where rights are regulated in terms of the Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act (TRANCRAA) including Ebenhaeser and Slangriver. We have also provided support for the settlement of the complex Ebenhaeser Restitution Claim and the revitalisation of the Communal Property Association established by the ‡Khomani San.
Phuhlisani is a member of the Land Network national Engagement Strategy (LANDNNES). This network brings together different CSO's and individual tenure specialists working in the rural and urban land sectors. Network members make submissions on land, planning and tenure reform legislation.
Since 2017 Phuhlisani NPC has had a working relationship with the Land Portal . contributing a listing of organisations working in the land sector and collecting a range of open access land related resources which are now available online.
Social movement support
Phuhlisani has provided extensive support to activists affiliated with the Alliance for Rural Democracy. This work was supported by the Bertha Foundation and involved a partnership with UCT's Land and Accountability Research Centre.
Initiatives in support of inclusive development
Phuhlisani is involved in the design of joint venture processes which seek to deliver tangible benefits to land reform beneficiaries and workers in the agricultural sector.
Our main work focus in this regard is in the Matzikama Local Municipality where we are actively involved in the planning of employment-intensive land redistribution . Given that government is revising its policy frameworks for land reform and agriculture in the light of the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel of 2019, and developing an Agricultural Master Plan with a strong focus on employment creation, this is an opportune moment to explore in more detail the practical implications of recent research work undertaken for the Capacity Building Programme for Employment Promotion.
The purpose of the Matzikama project is to pilot the planning, institutional and capacity-building arrangements, information management, learning and support systems required for an effective area-based land redistribution which successfully transfers land and provides effective support for employment-intensive production by market-oriented small-scale farmers.
It is anticipated that the pilot will yield important lessons for area-based planning for land and agrarian reform in general, as well as targeted transfers aimed at rural job creation. These lessons will feed into government’s renewed efforts to decentralise the planning and implementation of economic development and service provision.
Commissioned research and evaluation
Over the last few years Phuhlisani researchers have been extensively involved in collaborative learning and research assignments. These have included:
Consolidating our focus 2019 - 2023
A pro-poor land reform programme implemented across the rural and urban landscape, backed by policy, laws, effective institutions and repurposed land administration to advance equitable access to land, tenure and livelihood security within an integrated property rights system.
Our situation analysis highlights how:
- The expropriation debate diverts from examining the causes of land reform failure.
- There is no coherent pro-poor land reform policy.
- There are inadequate budgets and institutional capacity to implement recommendations from important reviews of land reform including the Motlanthe High Level Panel and the Presidential Advisory Panel. This has a major impact on the effectiveness of the land reform programme
- There have been a number of ad hoc approaches to land reform planning and implementation resulting in poor returns on public expenditure.
- Land administration has failed to recognise and protect off-register rights. The land rights of 60% of South Africans remain off-register and increasingly vulnerable to capture.
- Refocus the land reform debate and make available reliable information through our new comprehensive website knowledgebase.land
- Initiate district based learning laboratories and inclusive pilots to rethink and test models, promote dialogue and learning.
- Design and field test local property rights and land administration systems
- An expanded and dynamic knowledge base of reliable information disseminated through knowledgebase.land.
- Submissions and policy briefs advocating pro-poor rural and urban land reform.
- Conceptualisation of improved institutional models for area-based land reform implementation.
- Documented pilot case studies and linked learning programmes.
- A research and practice tested framework to advocate for an inclusive property rights and repurposed land administration system.
Three linked work areas
Land rights recordal and repurposed land administration for an inclusive property rights system
It is widely recognised that land administration systems in South Africa have collapsed. Currently the land rights of some 60% of South Africans remain off register.
Work Area #1 focuses on the design and piloting of land recordal and land administration systems which can be progressively rolled out across the land reform landscape. We seek to influence the design and development of a repurposed land administration system as the foundation for an inclusive property rights system which recognises and legally secures the rights of all. It seeks to contribute to the design of systems and spatial data infrastructure for the transparent administration of land rights.
This work area builds on the recommendations of the High Level Panel which proposed a Land Records Act and an affordable land administration system based on the recognition of a continuum of land rights to provide secure tenure for all.
Area based land reform planning and implementation support
Land reform planning and implementation support remains fragmented and ad hoc. In work area #2 Phuhlisani seeks support to design and test integrated area-based land reform planning and implementation support systems.
We plan to focus much of our work on Matzikama municipality. This work area will draw on relationships developed with communities, farm dwellers and labour unions, civil society organisations, organised agriculture, commodity associations as well as local, provincial and national government officials. It seeks to develop a collaborative planning and implementation support approach and document alternative institutional models which draws on our experience of facilitating social dialogue platforms.
Our research and knowledge sharing programme (Work area #3) will closely document the planning approach, and examine cost, capacity and feasibility implications. The output will be an integrated planning and support case study which can inform the development and scaling up of new institutional models. This will provide the basis for a linked training and learning programmes for state and non state actors.
This closely intersects with Work Area #1 which focuses on land rights recordal and land administration.
Research, knowledge sharing and collaborative learning
Phuhlisani NPC has a dedicated focus on applied research, case study documentation and knowledge sharing which are the core of Work Area #3.
We are working to design, build and maintain a comprehensive website knowledgebase.land (KB.L). Our objective is to incrementally grow the site to become the premier resource for reliable research and information on all aspects of rural and urban land in South Africa.
We are also expanding our land news coverage to include countries in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa
Work Area #3 draws on the other two work streams to distil key lessons and advance collaborative learning for improved pro-poor land reform policy and practice.