The practice and politics of state-funded rural development in the former homeland of Transkei, Eastern Cape
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The subject of rural development has been at the forefront of South Africa’s government discourse and policy. In post-apartheid South African rural development policy has paid significant attention to poverty alleviation, job creation and food security by attempting to commercialize agriculture in the former ‘homelands’. This has been mainly encouraged through agricultural programmes such as Masibambisane Rural Development Initiative (MRDI) and the Massive Food Production Programme (MFPP). To support these agricultural development programmes, the South African government has directed a significant amount of its public budget towards their development. However, literature suggests that to a large extent these agricultural programmes have not succeeded in improving the agricultural situation as well as livelihoods of rural dwellers in the former ‘homelands’. Despite the efforts made by the South African government, agriculture and field cultivation in rural areas continue to show a decline. Furthermore, many agricultural projects that have been initiated to improve the lives of rural people have been abandoned. This thesis investigates the interface between the actors that are involved in agricultural development projects in Mnquma Local Municipality in the former homeland of Transkei, Eastern Cape. Two irrigation schemes in Mnquma Local Municipality are interrogated, namely Ntuzenyandu Irrigation Scheme and Mirlees Masibambisane Irrigation Scheme, as case studies for this study. The main objective is to investigate the causes of dissonances between the actors that are involved in these agricultural projects, as well as how these dissonances influence the outcomes of agricultural projects in Mnquma Local Municipality. It is the micro-politics of development at the interface between the various actors that must be studied in order to gain a full and nuanced picture of why the irrigation schemes have faced challenges. This study uses the actor-oriented and social interface approach. The study identifies community politics, struggles over state allocated resources, power relations between the actors, lack of community involvement and a ‘discourse of blaming’ between the actors as key challenges that are hindering the success of these agricultural projects. It is hoped that this study can shed some important insights for policy makers on how to improve and implement state-funded agricultural projects that will be able to achieve government objectives and expectations of the rural people.