Department’s annual report shows full extent of skewed approach to land ownership
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s 2010/11 annual report has revealed that 85.6% of land purchased from land-owners for the purposes of land reform has been transferred to land claimants under leasehold, while only 14.4% of claimants have been awarded full ownership rights.
According to the annual report, a total of 322 844.9931 hectares of land was transferred to beneficiaries in the 2010/11 financial year. The majority of the land- 276 396.6839 hectares – was registered in the name of the state. Just 46 448.3038 was returned to land claimants with full ownership.
This discrepancy highlights the government’s skewed approach to land reform. Instead of land claimants being granted full ownership of their land, which would allow them to borrow against their assets in order to implement changes to their businesses in the case of commercial operations, or simply to upgrade their property if it is residential, the vast majority of claimants are merely tenants on state-owned land.
Not only does this prevent the land from being used as loan collateral, but it acts as a disincentive for claimants to invest in the land’s productive capacity. Without the freedom and stability to invest in their properties, claimants are consigned to the status of tenants, and have no incentive to make improvements to the land they have acquired since they bear neither the risk nor the reward associated with running a successful business.
Why would claimants devote time and resources to investing in land that is not theirs?
This effectively means that the true spirit of the purpose of land reform – the returning of land rights denied during Apartheid and the colonial era to claimants with full ownership rights – is not being adhered to.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will soon be making its submission on the Land Reform Green Paper. The Department has today indicated that the deadline for submissions is 31 October. Central to this will be the proposal that the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), which facilitates the transferring of land to claimants under leasehold, be scrapped. It is essential that all land is transferred with full ownership rights, together with the requisite skills training and financial support, to ensure that land reform is a success.