The Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture released its final report recently which expresses support for expropriation without compensation in certain circumstances.
Chairperson Vuyokazi Mahlati highlighted the need to come up with a solution to the issue of land in SA as soon as possible.
“The urgency and constitutional imperative of land reform in SA can neither be taken lightly nor postponed,” Mahlati said.
According to Mahlati, 83% of urban/peri-urban dwellers are currently residing on just 2% of the land which is a sign of just how dire the situation currently is.
She also pointed out that 41.6% of people living in rural areas suffer from lack of access to food, while 59.4% of urban dwellers face the same problem despite SA being a food exporter.
In the final report, the panel calls for “clarity of vision and outcomes” with regards to land ownership in the country and said any action taken must be backed up by good governance, strong institutions and a proper understanding of the historical context. behind the crisis.
The report lists six key points which it believes must be addressed.
Firstly, the report says the government has a duty to “restore human dignity and social justice by enabling and resourcing restitution, redistribution and securing tenure in rural and peri-uban areas”.
To this end, the report advises an immediate push to properly record current land rights, along with amendments to legislature making allowances for different forms of collective ownership.
Secondly, the report declares the popular “willing buyer, willing seller” model to be a failure.
The third point calls on the government to implement a land donations policy in order to encourage organisations, such as churches, mining houses and commercial farmers, to donate unused or under-used land to those in need.
According to Mahlati, a draft policy is currently being put together with input from the Treasury, the department of trade and industry (DTI), and department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF).
Fourth, the report says urges government to look into the possibility of amending section 25 of the constitution to clarify the issue of land reform, especially with regards to expropriation.
“The current framing of section 25 of the constitution is compensation-centric. This is hardly surprising given the fact that exprorpriation as a concept is imported from foreign and international law. that does not separate compensation from expropriation.
“However, the uniqueness of our constitution and jurisprudence is that it recognises that compensation may not be solely market-based but rather, envisages that compensation may be significantly less than the market value in some instances, and even exceed market-based compensation in other instances,” said Mahlati.
The report also acknowledged the increased rate of evictions for farm dwellers since 1994.
However, they dismissed calls for a blanket ban on all evictions and instead suggested introducing legislating to secure tenure and protect farm-workers from unfair evictions.
Finally, the report stressed that legislative action and even a constitutional amendment is not enough.
“The panel therefore emphasises the critical importance of government’s political will and ability to implement policies for the benefit of the people will be critical.”
The full report is available online.