Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



In January of 1996, the South African Parliament ratified the long-awaited Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Bill, which has engendered heated controversy since its inception. For many, the success of the Land Reform Bill portends the economic and political future of South Africa and is a gauge of apartheid's vital signs. Without land, most South Africans would remain in the same impoverished and disenfranchised conditions that they were in under the apartheid regime. With land, however, South Africans have an improved chance to achieve economic equality. Land reform and land use have become particularly crucial issues in light of President Mandela's promise to construct 1.5 million homes by 1999. This promise has raised serious concerns about what residential zoning regulations will guide South Africa through its period of transition and expansion. In many respects, South Africa faces a challenge identical to that faced by the United States after desegregation, and, arguably, one that is more complex: South Africa must decide not only how to enforce post-apartheid legislation, but also how to foster economic and, consequently, racial integration. Indeed, after nearly fifty years of apartheid, the mere abolition of apartheid legislation will not result in integrated communities. Rather, the South African government must take deliberate steps to ensure that integration occurs, and that a nation emerges that is truly deserving of the appellation "A New South Africa.” This Comment argues that one way for South Africa to move toward achieving racial residential integration is to implement residential zoning regulations different from those promulgated by the United States when it found itself at a similar point of departure in history. To this end, this Comment attempts to prove that residential zoning regulations in the United States are one of the myriad causes of racial residential segregation and a de facto cause of poverty among African Americans. Furthermore, if employed in South Africa, these regulations could not adequately serve the interests of South Africans or further the goals set forth in the African National Congress's (ANC) Reconstruction and Development Programme (the "RDP"). Part I briefly examines the history of zoning in the United States and explores the reasons why and the degree to which facially neutral zoning regulations promote racial residential segregation. Part II presents a comparative analysis of the economic disparity between Blacks and whites in South Africa and the United States, the political disenfranchisement of Blacks in both countries, and the residential segregation of Blacks from whites. Finally, Part III proposes a progressive zoning model—centralized performance zoning—that draws upon centralized planning and performance zoning schemes. Part III then evaluates the proposal by illustrating how it would promote integration in a rural area in the South African province of KwaZulu/Natal and determining whether it will serve the goals of South Africans as defined in the RDP, as well as comport with the South African Constitution. This Comment concludes that centralized performance zoning would allow South Africans to enjoy a residentially integrated society that the United States has yet to achieve in the thirty years since the fall of "American apartheid."



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