Review of Municipal Commonage programme of the Department of Land Affairs
Author: Doreen Atkinson, Anja Benseler
Contributing Authors: Kobus Pienaar and Tlalane Makhanya
The term municipal commonage is traditionally applied to land owned by a municipality or local authority. The land was usually acquired through state grants or from the church. The land was granted to serve the needs and interests of the poorer residents of the specific town.
Commonage lost its traditional character when previously disadvantaged residents of small towns lost access to the commonage in the late 50’s and 60’s when commonage was classified as land, which fell within the white group areas and was leased to the highest private white bidder. Although the income raised in this manner provides for enhanced local economies, it meant that the land no longer served the purpose for which it had been granted. It also meant that ‘non-white’ groups could not bid to lease land and were excluded from the use of land that was historically available for all needy/poor residents of a specific town.