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03 September 2020

Archie Mafeje Memorial Lecture to focus on Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

Archie Mafeje Memorial Lecture to focus on Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa

Pretoria, Thursday 3 September 2020 –  Members of the media are invited to join the annual Archie Mafeje Memorial Lecture to be held via zoom on Friday 4 September 2020 at 10h00.

The lecture will be held under the theme, Land and Agrarian Reform in South Africa: Lessons from other parts of the continent. Its main objective is to commemorate the life of the late Professor Archibald Monwabisi Mafeje and to reflect on his academic contributions.

This year the lecture will analyse the programmes and challenges of land redistribution in South Africa and interrogate the intersections between land reform and food security. Speakers will also offer a comparative perspective on land and agrarian reform in Africa, focusing on women’s rights to land and the associated tenure systems for gender equality.

South Africans are currently engaged in a fierce and emotive debate on land and agrarian reform. The November 2017 Land Audit report of the Department of Land and Rural Development states that Whites own 72% of farm and agricultural holdings by individual landowners; Coloureds own 15%; Indians own 5% and Africans own 4%.
The report further indicates that individual men own 72% of the total farms and agricultural holdings owned by individual owners, whilst women own only 13%.  These skewed patterns of land ownership reveal the historical reality of the South African society shaped by past draconian laws.

The Mafeje Memorial Lecture provides a platform to highlight Prof Mafeje’s contribution to the general understanding of the Agrarian question, discuss current debates on the land question and to learn from the experiences of other African countries.  

Historically, land restitution exercises, such as Zimbabwe’s Fast Track Land Reform Programme, have led to the distribution of land to a previously marginalised black majority; however, they have also resulted in a plethora of socio-economic and political problems.

Land tenure rights for women have been an issue since colonial times. Women still own less land, whether solely or jointly, than men. Therefore, this Archie Mafeje Memorial Lecture will explore narratives that address the plight of women in South Africa and other African countries.

Speakers include Dr Vuyo Mahlati, (Chairperson of the Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and president of the African Farmers Association of South Africa). Her address will be on the key findings of the presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture; Adv. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, (Author of the book, The Land Is Ours: South Africa’s First Black Lawyers and the birth of Constitutionalism). He will address key issues emerging from the land and agrarian question in South Africa, what is missing and constitutionally permissible; Dr Mathole Motshekga, MP (Chair: Ad hoc committee on the alignment of Section 25 of the constitution, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa). He will deal with the constitutional options on land ownership in a democratic South Africa.

The lecture is organized by the HSRC’s Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA) in collaboration with the Archie Mafeje Research Institute for Applied Social Policy (AMRI) and Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (Codesria).

This lecture can only be accessed via the Zoom link: Please login beforehand for registration purpose.

Details of the Lecture
Date:        04 September 2020
Time:        10h00 to 12h00 (CAT/SAST)
Zoom Link:

For more information or to set up interviews, please contact Adziliwi Nematandani, 0827659191, email:

About Archie Mafeje Memorial Lecture

This Lecture commemorates the academic and intellectual contribution of the late Professor Archibald Monwabisi Mafeje, one of the most gifted social science researchers and scholars to emerge in Africa in the last century. Mafeje was a towering intellectual who contributed to the contemporary African and global social research terrain. We seek to perpetuate Mafeje’s legacy of critical and engaged scholarship in support of progressive agendas of social transformation in the developing world.

About the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC was established in 1968 as South Africa’s statutory research agency and has grown to become the largest dedicated research institute in the social sciences and humanities on the African continent, doing cutting-edge public research in areas that are crucial to development.

Our mandate is to inform the effective formulation and monitoring of government policy; to evaluate policy implementation; to stimulate public debate through the effective dissemination of research-based data and fact-based research results; to foster research collaboration; and to help build research capacity and infrastructure for the human sciences.

The Council conducts large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific research for public sector users, non-governmental organizations and international development agencies. Research activities and structures are closely aligned with South Africa’s national development priorities.

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