Friday, 6 February 2015

Fast-track land reform for South Africa

Lovemore Mataire Senior Reporter
South Africa plans to embark on a fast-track land reform programme following the dismal failure of the willing-buyer, willing-seller model initiated at the attainment of majority rule.

Plans to abandon the willing-buyer, willing-seller model were revealed by South African President Jacob Zuma at a rally to celebrate 103 years of the African National Congress’ existence.

This is in the wake of a successful land redistribution exercise in Zimbabwe that has economically empowered over 300 000 families who have become proud owners of arable land in prime farming areas.
Fast-track land reform for SA
President Zuma lamented that land reform had progressed at a slow pace, falling short of the expectations of the majority.

In a telephone interview yesterday, ANC spokesperson Mr Zizi Kodwa, said his party had since submitted a comprehensive document to the South African Cabinet for deliberation on the enactment of necessary laws to speed-up land acquisition.

“We intend to introduce a number of policy interventions to fast-track the land redistribution exercise.

“We had a target of 30 percent of land, which should have been returned to the people in 2014, but we failed to meet that target. Our aim is to radically transform the economy and at the centre of that transformation is the issue of land,” said Mr Kodwa.

He said South Africa needed to urgently and decisively address the land issue in order to address various challenges that threatened peace and security in the country.

Mr Kodwa said the ruling ANC had instructed its Government to come up with a legislation of expropriation of land that specifically limited the number of hectarage owned by an individual farmer. He said the legislation must be able to deal with issues of one man one farm and no individuals were entitled to own more than 12000 hectares of land.

Mr Kodwa said that the ANC had proposed a Prohibition Order barring all foreigners from owning land.

“At a time when we are celebrating 60 years of the Freedom Charter, we felt it fundamental to address the issue of land. One of the clauses in the Freedom Charter says that the land must belong to those who work on it. We felt that we needed to introduce radical measures retrospectively cognisant of the fact that 87 percent of land is in the hands of the minority whites while only 13 percent is owned by the majority black people as a result of the 1913 Land Act,” Mr Kodwa said.

He said it was dangerous and not sustainable for the South African government not to act in reducing the gap between the poor peasants and those with the land as the disparity tended to create disharmony.

Mr Kodwa said the ANC had also proposed the new resettled farmers, whether small scale or commercial to be adequately resourced with finance and farm implements in order to make the land productive.

When asked why the South African government was seemingly taking the route taken by Zimbabwe when it embarked on its fast-track land reform programme, Mr Kodwa said his country was not copying any country but history demanded that the Government must do what was best for its citizens.

South Africa’s Land Expropriation Bill is similar to Zimbabwe’s Land Acquisition Act of 1992 enacted to speed up the land reform process by removing the “the willing-buyer, willing seller,” clause, which limited the size of farms. The Act empowered government to buy land compulsorily for redistribution and fair compensation was to be paid for land acquired. White commercial farmers could challenge in court the price set by the acquiring authority and litigation increased throughout the period of 1992 and 1997.

Realising that the process of redistributing land was being stalled by numerous litigation, the Zimbabwe Government passed a constitutional amendment signed into law on September 12, 2005, that nationalised farmland acquired through the Fast Track process.

More than 300 000 families have so far benefited from Zimbabwe’s land reform programme.

The Zimbabwean model has attained currency on the continent following the adoption of Agenda 2063 at the 24th Ordinary Session of the African Union General Assembly that ended in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last month.

Agenda 2063 advocates resource nationalism and shares many of the tenets of Zim-Asset, Zimbabwe’s economic blueprint for the period 2013 to 2018, and Agenda 2063 – the AU 50-year development roadmap have striking similarities as both seek to harness domestic resources for the betterment of the lives of Africans by promoting value-addition, beneficiation and the development of infrastructure and utilities to facilitate industrialization. Herald
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