Barokologadi ba ga Maotoe community bucks the narrative of failed land reform

The land was allocated to the Barokologadi community following an 11-year long battle for the return of their ancestral land. SUPPLIED.

The land was allocated to the Barokologadi community following an 11-year long battle for the return of their ancestral land. SUPPLIED.

Published Jun 21, 2024


The milestones that the Barokologadi Communal Property Association (CPA) achieved after having the 26 000 hectares adjacent to the world famous Madikwe Game Reserve in the North West province returned to them, bucking the widespread narrative of failed land reform programmes.

Amos Setou, the general manager of the Barokologadi CPA, credits a clear growth plan for the success of this land reform project.

“Having a clear plan for the community provided a foundation for the coordinated strategic development efforts that needed to take place on the farm to ensure that the restored land benefited our people - the Barokologadi ba ga Maotoe community, Setou said.

When the CPA held its first annual general meeting back in 2007, it took the decision to formulate measured plans on how the community would harness the potential of its restored land, especially given the location of the land adjacent to the Madikwe Game Reserve, one of the biggest nature reserves in the country.

“This decision played a big role in the subsequent actions that needed to be taken to solicit resources to kick start projects to help to put the land to use,” said Setou.

This feat now stuck out as a shining example of what could be achieved when claimant communities work in concert with like-minded partners.

The land was allocated to the Barokologadi community following an 11-year long battle for the return of their ancestral land.

This prime real estate is located in an area known as Melorane which comprised of nine farms bordering the Madikwe Game Reserve.

Upon successfully claiming their land, the community established the Barokologadi Communal Property Association (CPA), which was a landholding institution established under law to acquire and manage the beneficiary land on behalf of the community.

To plug the resources and competency gaps, the CPA approached a non-profit organisation assisting communities in land reform, Vumelana Advisory Fund, to assist them in identifying a partner to enable them to begin working on their land.

Through Vumelana’s support, the CPA forged a partnership with a non-profit organisation called Elephants, Rhinos and People (ERP) and established the Melorane ERP Game Reserve to unlock the nature conservation and tourism opportunities on their land.

Together they have been able to also create entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for the locals.

The community, who were direct descendants of their forebearers who were forcibly ejected from the land in 1950, also identified and arranged potential projects in agriculture, wildlife conservation, leisure, and skills development.

In addition to driving socio-economic development in Melorane and providing the community with an opportunity to reap the benefits of conservation and eco-tourism, the developments projects also had a trickle-down effect on the community in terms of community upliftment initiatives.

Setou conceded that though the CPA has made substantial strides in developing the land, the organisation has had to contend with challenges that threatened to derail its work.

Co-management agreement and profit sharing was one of the major hurdles, in addition to other disruptive activities such as encroachment by neighbouring community members, legal battles, and disruptive interruptions to their ongoing projects.

Similar to other land reform projects, lack of access to water rights was another major hurdle that threatened the sustainability of major commercial farms.

“We are currently facing another challenge regarding the transfer of the transferable portion of Eerstepoort 136 farm. This particular farm, which was returned to CPA in 2007, has a significant portion occupied by Molatedi Dam.

“Since 2007, CPA has been actively engaging with the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform as well as the Department of Water and Sanitation to discuss the transfer of the portion that is not occupied by the dam.

“To address this challenge, a detailed letter has been prepared, providing a comprehensive background and explanation of the situation, which will be sent to the Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister.”