Land reform in South Africa : a contemporary analysis
Bester, Jan Christiaan
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Land reform is a historical issue in South Africa dating back to 1652. Land issues are at the core of political struggles and dynamism in many countries, more specifically those with a colonial history (Duvenhage, 1998:4). Political power is concerned with the capacity to mobilize and organize support within the society and to consolidate that power. Such power allows the taking of binding decisions, for example on the allocation of land to disadvantaged groups. The Natives Land Act No. 27 of 1913 in South Africa prohibited all natives from owning or renting any land in proclaimed white areas. Government instead provided different areas for exclusive occupation of non–whites. Only nonwhites were allowed to own land in these areas (De Beer, 2001:1). After the election of 1994, the African National Congress came into power. One election promise was that of land reform. In 1994 an era of transformation and change in South Africa was ushered in (Van Wyk, 2010:1). The ANC reaffirmed the principles to build a common citizenship and equal rights for all South Africans (ANC, 2009:1). The new South African government set a target to transfer 30% of productive farmland from whites to Africans and previously disadvantaged groups by 2014 (Khuzwayo, 2008:1). Various methods were utilized to transfer land according to the Green Paper on Rural Development and Land Reform, from here on the Green Paper, such as: * Land Tenure: This method makes sure that communities are secure on the land where they live and that they cannot be unfairly or illegal moved. It also states the conditions under which land can be occupied (SA, 2010:19). * Land Restitution: This method is giving back land, where possible, to those people who were removed by force from their land (to settle historical land–related injustices is a long administrative process and time–consuming). The Land Claims Commission helps people in this regard. Government compensated (in monetary terms) individuals who were forcefully removed in the past. This was unsuccessful and the policy shifted to land redistribution (SA, 2010:20). * Land Redistribution: This is the programme of acquisition of land in order to provide for the poor residential and agricultural land (dividing rural and urban land equally in the country) in order to improve their livelihoods. Land was initially bought from owners (willing seller) by the government (willing buyer) and redistributed to maintain confidence in the land market (SA, 2010:20). Taking into consideration that these methods of land transfer have worked in different countries in the world, it seems to be a problem in South Africa. One of the reasons is that some buyers do not actually see the land they are buying beforehand and they are not involved in decisions made at the start of the buying negotiations. From the year 2000 onward, the South African Government has reviewed and changed the redistribution and tenure process to a more decentralized style. This is intended to have in place integrated development plans in 47 districts, which will bring about more community participation and more land redistribution. One of the concerns is the use of third parties, accredited by the state, who held accountability to the government. Due to this, local and holding elites dominated the system in many areas (Hall, 2008:8). In 2006, government announced that it would start expropriating the land needed. According to the country’s chief land claims commissioner there will, unlike in Zimbabwe, be compensation to those whose land has been expropriated. It must, however, be a just amount and not inflated sums. Despite these moves as discussed in the previous paragraph, the improved practices and government promises are not evident. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform admits that its present land reform plan is at stalemate, and that it is now looking at a four–tier system as mentioned in the Green Paper: * Firstly, state and public land on leasehold. * Secondly, private owned land on freehold with limited extent. * Thirdly, foreign ownership on freehold but with precarious tenure. * Fourthly, communally owned land on communal tenure (SA, 2011:1). This scenario regarding land reform in South Africa is the ideal field of study on which research can be done. Land reform thus forms the foundation of this study.
- Humanities