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SA Land Reform Unpacked by UKZN Academic at London Conference

November 28, 2016

Dr Adeoye Akinola (right) with Conference co-ordinator, Professor Joseph Bonnici.

Winning the annual Ellie Newman Moot Court competition, beating 320 participants by showcasing outstanding legal skills, is a sure sign that fourth-year Law student Mr Elisha Kunene is equipped for success in the legal profession.

Kunene competed in the Moot final - hosted by the School of Law in Durban - alongside finalists Ms Jolene Thompson, Mr Andile Mabaso and Mr Connor Alexander.

The finalists displayed their legal prowess in front of judges, Law School academics Professor Karthy Govender, Ms Lindiwe Maqutu, Professor Tanya Woker and Mr Vishal Surbun as well as family and friends.

A highlight at the final was third-year Law student Mr Andile Mcineka being awarded the Yunus Mohammed Public Interest Law Award by Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay for his article: “Winnie Getting the Short End of the Stick”, which was published in The Sunday Tribune.

The award recognises Mcineka’s valuable contribution to knowledge in the field of public law.

‘There was depth in his argument; he drew on judgments in a coherent manner; it was a pleasure interacting with him…’ these were some of the comments made by the judges on Kunene’s performance before his announcement as the winner which was greeted with resounding applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

‘Winning the Ellie Newman award means the world to me. It’s literally a dream come true. My time in ‘varsity has been quite difficult in a number of ways but I was determined to finish strongly and I sort of viewed this year as a rebuilding period,’ says Kunene.

‘Earlier in the year a good friend of mine and I won the Southern African National Debating Championships and I ranked first in the country. So I really feel like God is with me on this winning streak.’

The great debater who used his skills to coach school debating teams to generate funds for his university tuition got academic merit scholarships from UKZN for his first and second year. However, monetary challenges nearly saw Kunene being financially excluded in his second year.

‘In a remarkable turn of events I was able to stay and complete my studies thanks to a generous intervention by Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm and I parted ways this year but I will always be grateful to them and to everyone else who have contributed to keeping me going,’ he said.

Looking to the future, Kunene said: ‘I have been granted the great privilege of being accepted to clerk for Justice Raymond Zondo at the Constitutional Court next year.’  His long-term plans include becoming an advocate.

Thandiwe Jumo
School of Management, Information Technology and Governance academic Dr Adeoye Akinola presented an assessment of South African land reform at the recent IJAS International Conference for Social Sciences and Humanities held at the University of London.

The presentation was co-authored by UKZN’s Professor Henry Wissink.

Their research was supported by the College Research Office and the NRF Travel Grants under the category of Knowledge Interchange and Collaboration.

The presentation, titled: “The Travails of Land Redistribution Policy in South Africa”, explored the convergence between the ‘demand’ and ‘want’ of land, evaluating the utility of land re-allocated to new owners in the country.

‘The paper acknowledged the fact that land related issues and the need for land reform have consistently occupied a unique position in policymaking and public discourse in the country since 1994,’ said Akinola.

He added that the paper achieved this by recognising the popular advocacy in support of accelerated ‘return’ of land to the original Black owners; however, the paper found some compelling reasons to question the unproductive utility of transferred land.

‘Some of the policy gaps in the land reform remain the inadequate institutional and financial support for Black beneficiaries, the absence of effective skills transfer from the ‘White’ farmers to new farmers, among others.

‘The paper concludes by advocating a decisive policy framework to enhance the productive utilisation and resettlement of the land, which is pertinent for food security, poverty alleviation and sustainable development,’ said Akinola.

Thandiwe Jumo

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