This paper develops Derek Gregory's concept of the 'colonial present' by demonstrating bow the colonial present in rural South Africa in general and around land reform in particular has conditioned land reform outcomes. My development of the concept departs from Gregory's in two key respects. I argue first that, by viewing it in relation to the geopolitics of capitalism, it can be applied to places beyond the immediate influence of US military power, and, second, that social forces which might begin to undermine the colonial present should be examined. My empirical materials draw upon primary research on the emergence of government-sponsored partnerships between restitution beneficiaries and agribusinesses in northern Limpopo. I use the materials to argue that partnerships have emerged given white farmers' near-monopoly on skills and the persistent power of traditional leaders, two features of South Africa's colonial past whose importance today is suggestive of a colonial present.