Restitution has to be made in a highly political environment, making the planning and design of restitution programmes in rural, peri-urban and urban areas extremely complex. The development of governance structures for restitution programmes is influenced by policy instruments that have to consider taxation effects and their impact on economic behaviour, as well as predict outcomes that transcend the objective functions. The complexity is exacerbated by limited scientific evidence and the absence of evidence-based
policy-making, culminating in policy neglect and inadequate service delivery outcomes for land reform and restitution. The article explores progress made with the implementation of the Nkumbuleni Land Claim (Kwa-Zulu Natal) and examines what prevents the restitution support programme from implementing its policy objectives (guided by the Restitution of Lands Rights Act, Act 22 of 1994). The authors conclude that the attainment of sustainable outcomes in post-settlement restitution support continues to be a challenge to policy-makers, as claims remain unsustainable. Poor communication between stakeholders, the narrow role municipalities play in restitution and conflicting governance structures between “traditional councils
versus municipal councils” are seen as the main drivers of programme failure.