Municipal commonage in South Africa: A public good going bad?


Ingle, M (2006), “Municipal commonage in South Africa: A public good going bad?”, in Africa Insight, vol. 36, no. 2, pp. 46-55.

This article deals with the ‘Cinderella’ of urban spaces – municipal commonage. The author argues that commonage is a valuable natural heritage resource. However, municipalities face pitfalls in giving expression to central policymakers’ dictates regarding land redistribution. A warning is issued that by trying to turn the clock back to commonage policies more suited to a bygone era, municipalities run the risk of forfeiting both the income their commonage has the potential to generate and the very asset itself. The author contends that, until government can offer municipalities a coherent, viable model for commonage management, it would be folly to abandon the system of renting out commonage to the highest bidders.

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