Eminent Domain, “Public Use”, and Mineral Resource Exploitation in South Africa

by Issah Moshood, Umejesi Ikechukwu, and Nokuthula Mazibuko

Abstract

Eminent domain is the power of the state to expropriate privately or communally owned land subject to the meeting of the requirements of “public use” and payment of just compensation to the affected parties. Contentiously, scholars have been divided on the “public-use” doctrine of eminent domain. While some scholars argue that eminent domain is needed for socio-economic development (public interest), others stressed that the exercise of eminent domain serves only private interest. However, this debate has not been fully extended to South African mineral resource development. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to extend the theoretical and conceptual argument of “public-use” discourse of eminent domain to some mineral-rich communities in South Africa. Based on the conceptual analysis of public use discourse of eminent domain, this study developed a three-stage model of eminent domain discourse. It is expected that this model would help deconstruct the complex relationship between the four major stakeholders in the mineral resource extractive space in South Africa in order to highlight sources of conflict as well as opportunities for sustainable relationships.

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Dr. Issah Moshood teaches in the department of sociology, University of Ilorin, Ilorin, Nigeria. His research interest focuses on natural resource exploitation and criminology. He is an alumnus of the University of Fort Hare, East London Campus, South Africa.

Prof. Umejesi Ikechukwu teaches in the department of sociology, University of Fort Hare, East London Campus, South Africa. His research interests focus on natural resource exploitation, state-community relations, environmental risks, vulnerability and policy. He is an alumni of the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Laxenburg, Austria.

Prof. Nokuthula Mazibuko teaches in the department of sociology, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa. Her research interests focus on gender studies and natural resource exploitation