The University Of Stellenbosch, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, the Human Sciences Research Council and Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies initiated an international conference from the 13-15 September 2006. The purpose of the conference was to review restitution as a critical part of land reform. The theme of the conference was Land, Memory, Reconstruction and Justice.
The conference looked broadly at issues related to redress and restoration in terms of urban and rural restitution. Various scholars presented papers on different aspects of restitution under the theme. The issues covered ranged from memory and identity, restitution and conservation, betterment related restitution, restitution jurisprudence, pre- and post settlement support and cash, land and development.
The conference raised a number of critical issues related to restitution and the implementation of this programme. In terms of redress, there was an issue of what is being redressed and to whom? Does the restitution programme, in its quest for redress, promote the land ownership pattern before dispossession i.e. land owners versus tenants. Recently, there have been tensions between the two as the results of the way this programme is packaged and implemented.
The current development model, which promotes protected areas, game farming and golf estates is restricting true restitution, whether or not these models are based on co-management or co-ownership. The agreements are often ambiguous and access to natural resources by the poor is not clear. The uncritical use of co-management in protected areas is hegemonic in South Africa.
In terms of cash compensation, the conference found that in the absence of the social wage and the endemic employment and poverty people opt for money due to immediate needs and also that the often long process of restoration militates against people choosing land.