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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.46

Black South African Vintners and the Quest for Land Ownership


  • Dr. Betty HARRIS

Primary authors


This paper explores patterns of black land ownership in the Western Cape towns of Stellenbosch and Paarl, at the center of the South African wine industry. Twenty-five years since the end of apartheid, few black South Africans have been able to secure farmland through purchase or restitution. During constitutional negotiations leading up to the first all-race national elections in 1994, white commercial farmers organized a strong lobby to protect their land rights. Thus, the African National Congress government, after winning the elections, embraced a ""willing buyer/willing seller"" policy for land transfer. The limited accessibility to farmland by black South Africans is exacerbated by escalating land prices. International sanctions, implemented during apartheid because of racial segregation, ended after the 1994 elections. This allowed South Africa to rise to number seven in wine production globally. The land issue is coming to a head in different dimensions. While the middle class is resentful about limited land access, the poor and working class are more volatile and confrontational with authorities in rural and urban areas of the Western Cape and other parts of South Africa. While awaiting land purchase, some black vintners buy wine grapes, access cellars for processing at established wine estates, and do their own labeling and marketing. To accelerate black land ownership, the government is considering changes to the South African Constitution that would permit land expropriation without compensation. There is some controversy about this strategy.