Land Reform is a contentious issue in South Africa. Below are the three largest political parties’ stances on land reform.
African National Congress Land Reform Policy
The ANC National Executive Committee convened a consultative summit over the weekend of 19-20 May 2018, focusing on its 54th National Conference resolution on land redistribution, and in particular the use of expropriation without compensation as a primary instrument to speed up land and agrarian reform.
At the core of the issues discussed was the review of Section 25 of the Constitution. The workshop recommends that the ANC make a submission to the Constitutional Review Panel of Parliament, based on the Conference resolution.
It furthermore interrogated the need for a law of general application on the issue of expropriation as required by the Constitution. Other legal issues which the workshop looked at included provisions for expropriation in other legislation such as the SA Schools Act, and more specifically expropriation in the’ public interest’ and for ‘public good.’
The workshop also reiterated the ANC’s position in other policy documents – that land ownership in South Africa continue to be a mix of state, private and communal land ownership and that the challenges and opportunities for redistribution, urban development and agrarian reform, as well as the rights of black communities, be considered in each of these ‘sectors’ of land ownership.
The summit called on the ANC to adopt a more comprehensive and multi-pronged approach that is based on the following steps:
1. Immediately use Section 25 of the Constitution to press ahead with expropriation of land in order to test the argument that the constitution does permit expropriation without compensation in certain circumstances.
2. Immediately pass the Expropriation Bill and Land Redistribution Bill to bring greater clarity to the transformative intent and impact of the Constitution.
3. Ensure that the Constitutional review process is used to avoid ambiguity and bring greater clarity to Section 25(2)(B) of the constitution, if it is found that the current legal formulations impede or slow down effective land redistribution.
Democratic Alliance Land Reform Policy
The DA proposes an approach to land reform based on the following principles:
- Land reform is a moral and political imperative and represents an opportunity to invigorate rural economies by giving rural dwellers greater access to productive assets.
- The land reform programme must look beyond rural land and truly address the land needs of South Africans who have historically been excluded from land and property ownership, including the need for access to urban land and housing opportunities.
- Our land reform strategy must be informed not by the need to achieve quantitative land targets, but by the objectives to (i) support a thriving commercial agricultural sector that can protect South Africa’s food security, (ii) promote emerging small-scale farmers where economically viable, and (iii) alleviate poverty and support household food security through appropriate assistance for subsistence agriculture. The success of land reform should therefore be determined in terms of the livelihoods created or supported and economic value created, rather than the hectares of land transferred.
- We must ensure that citizens in the former homelands enjoy their full rights as democratic citizens by giving them security of tenure on the land on which they live and farm.
- Insufficient funding and institutional challenges in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform cannot be allowed to undermine the land reform process.
- Comprehensive support, tailored to the needs of beneficiaries as they move through the various stages of business development, must be understood and be one of the top priorities of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
- Stakeholders in the private sector and civil society can make an invaluable contribution to the success of land reform, and government departments must actively pursue partnerships and collaboration to achieve shared goals.
- We need comprehensive data on land reform projects that will allow for the identification of common failures that must be addressed and the duplication of models that have been successful.
- Confidence in key assets in rural economies must be restored through clarity on the approach to land reform.
Economic Freedom Fighters Land Reform Policy
Expropriation of land without compensation for equitable redistribution.
- The EFF’s approach to land expropriation without compensation is that all land should be transferred to the ownership and custodianship of the state in a similar way that all mineral and petroleum resources were transferred to the ownership and custodianship of the state through the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) of 2002. The state should, through its legislative capacity transfer all land to the state, which will administer and use the land for sustainable-development purposes. This transfer should happen without compensation and should apply to all South Africans, black and white.
- Once the state is in control and custodianship of all land, those who are currently using the land or intend using land in the immediate will apply for land-use licences, which should be granted only when there is a purpose for the land being applied for. Those applying for licences will be granted licences for a maximum of 25 years, renewable on the basis that the land is being used as planned. The state should, within this context, hold the right to withdraw the licence and reallocate the land for public purposes.
- State custodianship of land will mean that those who currently occupy land should apply for licensing to continue using the land and should clearly state in the application 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, because those who have money can, over time, buy huge plots of land and use them for counter-developmental private purposes, such as using land as game farms. A maximum of 25 years can then be placed on all land leases applied for by private corporations and individuals, with the state retaining the right to expropriate in instances where the land is not used for the purpose applied for.
- In line with the Freedom Charter and a new vision of agrarian revolution, the state should also provide implements and related extension services to help those who work the land to use it productively. Furthermore, the state’s procurement of food should prioritise small-scale farmers so that small-scale farming becomes a sustainable economic activity for the majority of our people. The state must buy more than 50% of the food for hospitals, prisons and schools from small-scale farmers in order to develop small-scale agriculture.
- Food production, packaging, transportation, marketing, advertising, retail, and trade should constitute one of South Africa’s biggest economic sectors. With a growing global population, and the growing capacity of Africans to buy food, South Africa needs to produce an agricultural output through the provision of subsidies to small-scale farmers, and open packaging and retail opportunities for these farmers.
- A structured state support and agricultural-protection mechanism should be applied to all food products, including beef and other meats’ production and processing. The same applies to fruit, maize, and other essential food items produced by small-scale farmers. To boost sustainable demand domestically, the South African government should pass legislation that all the food bought by the government for hospitals, schools, prisons, and the like should be sourced from small-scale food producers. This in itself will create sustainable economic activity, and inspire many young people to go into food production because there will be income and financial benefits to boost other economic activities out of it. The economy of food production needs well-structured protection mechanisms and subsidies in order to protect jobs and safeguard food security. Most developed and developing nations are doing the same.
- With a clearly defined and well-structured mechanism, South Africa, which is, oddly, a net importer of food, can realise the development of the food economy in a manner that exceeds Brazil’s. This will add sustainable job creation, not the kind of short-term jobs created through infrastructure development. This will, of course, require land reform to be expedited and water supplies to be guaranteed for the sustainability of this important sector of the economy.
Further Reading on Land Reform in South Africa
- Lies Of The Land – Government’s Deeply Questionable Land Audit
- Defend your property rights before D-Day: 15 June 2018
- Evidence-based approach to land redistribution is not a numbers game
- The new Expropriation Bill: a Threat to Small Businesses?
- Ramaphosa, Here’s The Real Reasons Why Land Reform Has Been An Epic Fail
- New IRR Report Slams Expropriation without Compensation in South Africa