Lindiwe Mazibuko MP


The Green Paper on Land Reform

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The arrival of the Green Paper on Land Reform has been a very long time coming. It is a testament to the importance of this document that so many leaked copies of draft versions have been in circulation over the past year.

This 11 page policy offering gives a glimpse into the ANC’s priorities in respect of land reform. As expected, it relies heavily on a discourse of apartheid and colonial dispossession while paying no attention to government inefficiencies after 17 years in power.

Most importantly, it offers no vision of how to substantially address the inequities bequeathed by apartheid in a coherent and sustainable way. If the Green Paper is implemented in its current form, the landless of South Africa will continue to feel the effects of the past.

There is no question that South Africa needs an effective, well-implemented land reform programme. It is a moral imperative that the injustices created by the 1913 Land Act – which forced millions of black South Africans off their land – are addressed.

The DA’s own vision for land reform is of a thriving rural economy in which the injustices of apartheid and colonialism are effectively and decisively redressed through a combination of sustainable job-creating economic growth, and a well-managed and appropriately resourced land restitution and redistribution programme.

This Green Paper is very far from this vision.

We have very serious concerns about the proposed Land Management Commission which will be given wide-ranging discretionary powers to subpoena, award amnesty and invalidate land ownership. These are powers that should be in the hands of the courts, not in a quasi-autonomous body within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and accountable to the Ministry.

We have similar concerns with the proposed establishment of a Land Valuer-General mandated to determine financial compensation in cases of land expropriation. Again, this is a task that should be left to the judiciary – as specifically provided for in the Constitution. Appointing a non-independent body to determine compensation will be open to abuse and undermine the constitutional principle of willing-buyer-willing-seller.

These measures will create instability and undermine confidence in South Africa’s rural economy. This will have a detrimental impact on economic growth and job creation.

Our main concern in the Green Paper lies with the government’s focus on the 3 million South Africans who live and work on privately-owned farms, while failing adequately to deal with the issue of communal land tenure which affects the 16 million landless South Africans who reside in the former apartheid homelands.

In the Green Paper, the Minister notes that because of the complexity of communal land tenure and the recent nullification of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA) by the Constitutional Court, its policy in this regard will be ‘treated in a separate policy articulation’ and suggests that the communal tenure will be according to ‘institutionalised use rights’.

What we are seeing here is a lack of political will to confer full land rights to people who live on communally-owned land. At least 4.5 million of these people are engaged in agricultural activity.

In order to ensure the security of tenure of those currently living in the former homelands, a formal registration process of individual deed titles of land and buildings in these areas must begin. In order to ensure the continued success of the citizens granted full individual title, the government must institute and oversee an effective programme of post-settlement support, offering beneficiaries economic and agricultural support in the form of resource and advisory services.

Land reform in South Africa can be a “win-win” scenario, in which the injustices of the past are redressed, while at the same time growing the rural economy, creating jobs, and ensuring access to opportunity for all South Africans.

In order to achieve these aims, the overarching objective of any government responsible for answering the land question must be to drive rural economic growth and job creation. Instead of vilifying property rights, the government can and should expand access to them in order to empower landless South Africans economically and redress the imbalances of the past.

This Green Paper does not come close to addressing the myriad issues which affect this policy area. The Minister needs to go back to the drawing board and draft a policy document that details a comprehensive and substantive plan for land reform in South Africa.

Link to full DA response on the Green Paper on Land Reform:


Written by Lindiwe Mazibuko

September 27, 2011 at 09:00

Posted in Uncategorized

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