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The question of land reform is a crucial issue to many South Africans

 
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About Land Reform SA

Land Reform SA and it's forum is dedicated to the discussion of land reform in South Africa and is a place to share opinions online.


After the public hearings on amending section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic in 2018, the Joint Constitutional Review Committee compiled a report and tabled it in the National Assembly (NA). The report listed the following key issues arising from public inputs:

  • There is unequal and skewed ownership of land in the country.

  • The security of tenure for farmworkers, farm tenants and those residing on communal land held in a Trust must be assured.

  • Corruption, an insufficient land reform budget, along with a lack of capacity within the state were mentioned as hindering the land reform process.

  • The state is urged to formulate a clear strategy for land redistribution to address the injustices of the past.

  • The Constitution should explicitly state the expropriation of land without compensation as a legitimate option for land reform.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

 

Understanding the issue of South African Land reform

The issue of land in South Africa is a complex one and has caused parliamentary debates and public hearings on land expropriation without compensation. Due to discourse regarding amendments of the constitution has made this issue more topical in recent times.

What the people say

This survey conducted by Afrobarometer in 2018 shows the opinions of South Africans on what type of land they believe the government should prioritise for redistribution. The majority of individuals surveyed believe that land taken during forced removals, from Black South Africans, should take the largest priority.

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The need for reform and development stems from inequality

South Africa is rapidly growing in urbanisation and population. This has led to townships increasing in size every year as people want access to jobs cities have to offer. Development of informal settlements is crucial in building a more economically inclusive South Africa, where townships can become a true economic part of cities in the future. Property and property rights is a fundamental factor in wealth creation and there are many different proposals in ensuring equitable access to land and just land reform to facilitate economic growth. This has led to conflict as different stakeholders have different approaches to land reform.

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Conflict in approaches

There have been several tried and suggested approaches to land reform to increase property ownership. Many academics and members of government hold the position that increased property ownership amongst the poor will result in increased economic growth and wishingly, economic development as well due to more capital being distributed between the population. Critics argue that property ownership is not necessarily the path to economic development or that the concept of property is a Western ideal not applicable to South Africa. “State custodianship of land will mean those who currently occupy land should apply for licensing to continue using the land and should clearly state what they want to use the land for over a period of time. Under this legislation, no one should be allowed to own land forever” is what the Economic Freedom Fighter's manifesto on land states. The relevance of the issue has arguably led to increased politicisation, possibly hindering progress in any direction.

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Our land reform programme helps redress the injustices of apartheid. It fosters national reconciliation and stability. It also underpins economic growth and improves household welfare and food security.

Quote from Nelson Mandela in 1995 after 600 000 hectares of land was given back to it's rightful owners.

Image source: Council on Foreign Relations