Report by the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture

We welcome the report by the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture as an important step to end land hunger, poverty and inequality.

We will ensure that parliament through its various organs gives expression to the aspirations of all our people and take forward the recommendations.

We welcome the proposed amendment of the Constitution that clarifies that expropriation without compensation may be necessary in limited circumstances.

25 years into democracy we no longer have the luxury to further delay land reform, including restitution, redistribution, tenure security and agricultural support. These are critical elements to advance the national agenda, broaden participation in the national economy and ensure redress of the injustices of our past.

We applaud the members of the panel Prof Ruth Hall, Prof Mohammed Karaan, Adv Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Bulelwa Mabasa, Dr Thandi Ngcobo, Wandile Sihlobo, Daniel Kriek, Thato Moagi and Nick Serfontein for a job well done.

We are especially encouraged by the spirit in which the panel conducted its work “to hear the cries of the majority of our ancestors who were dispossessed of the land of their birth through blood shed and untold pain, whilst being mindful of the hopes and dreams of our future generations for a just, prosperous and inclusive future.” Their cries cannot continue to go unheeded.

We welcome the panel’s finding that land reform could enable social cohesion, deliver social justice and restore dignity to the majority of our people.

It is a travesty of justice that South Africa is still regarded as the most unequal country in the world and we still have to contend with land hunger, insecurity of tenure with the majority land rights that are not legally recognised in both rural and urban areas. This tardiness in advancing land and agricultural transformation is placing our social cohesion in great jeapordy undermining stability, and place enormous obstacles to inclusive growth and development.

We appeal to all South Africans affected to work together to develop cooperative models to radically advance our collective interests.

The panel’s finding that 80% of urban dwellers are residing on only 2% of the country’s land, highlights the need for a quantum leap in the land reform trajectory we cannot afford a business as usual approach.

We must as a matter of urgency address communal tenure and underdevelopment of rural areas and undo the horrid legacy of marginalisation of women, the rural poor and communal farmers.

We especially welcome the report’s recommendations for immediate action, among these is the allocation of land, building on and refocusing private partnerships and strengthening of food systems and rural urban linkages.

We will work closely with the Honourable Minister of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza to ensure that the proposed new whitepaper on national land reform sees the light of day as it will address current gaps to include urban land, address spatial transformation and climate change.

We commend the panel’s call for the expedition and refocus of land reform to address inequality and historical injustices.

We applaud HE President Cyril Ramaphosa on the work of the panel
and add our voice to their call on cabinet to expedite land reform by using all its powers to resolve all outstanding land restitution claims, release acquired private land and much more effectively identify privately owned land needed for redistribution.

We welcome the panel’s recommendations for land redistribution without compensation, and clarifying the factors under which this may be applicable as it removes any policy uncertainty in this matter.

Finally, we applaud the recognition and recording the varying tenure rights that exist in the country, as it is unacceptable that 60% of land rights in South Africa were not recorded or recognised.

We call on all South Africans to work together; government, private sector, civil society structures and all who desire a prosperous South Africa that provides hope for a new dawn.

 

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Arthur Iinuma

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