‘Radical economic transformation’, ‘white monopoly capital’, ‘land redistribution’ – they’re all phrases that tend to get South Africans pretty worked up.
It’as the latter that they’re talking about over on The Conversation, with the focus on the National Forum recently set up to establish dialogue on the subject.
That forum consisted of the likes of the South African Human Rights Commission, the Foundation for Human Rights and three universities.
Part of their job was to investigate “the bureaucratic, legal and constitutional constraints that slow down land redistribution and restitution”, as well as looking into “the policy and legislative options necessary to address the complex challenges”.
Their conclusion was that the country’s constitution does not stand in the way of land reform, although they did note that undue bureaucracy, mismanagement and corruption had hampered efforts thus far.
Finally they recommended a 10-point plan for “constitutionally accelerated land reform”, which you can see below.
Aspects of the 10-point plan include [bolding below is our own]:
- A human rights approach to land redistribution, grounded in the effective implementation of Section 25 of the Constitution. This could still guarantee a life of dignity, equality and freedom for all citizens.
- Existing land reform legislation is not effectively implemented. The Land Claims Commission and Land Claims Court, which were created through the Restitution of Land Rights Act (1994), have not been effective. Unnecessary bureaucratic bungling, significant corruption and limited expert skills have been exacerbated by cadre deployment. This is the practice of appointing party political loyalists to government positions irrespective of ability…
- The possibility of adopting further laws to accelerate land reform is not being used. This is the case even though Section 25(8) of the Constitution specifically indicates that it can be done.
- The possibility of repealing existing legislation that’s inconsistent with or hampering land reform is not being pursued. This should be rectified.
- There is a need for national legislation on expropriation. A bill is before Parliament – the Expropriation Bill – but it’s been introduced late and processed without urgency. The possibility of effecting appropriate amendments to the 1975 Expropriation Act should also be considered.
- There should be improved communication and coordination between various government departments. Currently, the location of relevant land reform mandates and competencies are spread across several departments. These should be aligned to accelerate the pace of the process.
- A draft bill on cultural and spiritual access to land must be developed to enable citizens’ access to cemeteries and related holy sites where their family members are buried.
- The courts should pronounce on the meaning of “just and equitable” compensation in Section 25 of the Constitution, to provide for better definition and interpretation of this provision within the context of land reform.
- Communal Property Associations, community and traditional leader tensions must be resolved through meaningful engagement. Communication channels must be open, all role-players included and all relevant information made available to every stakeholder. Furthermore, all affected parties must be able to influence the decisions taken. In addition, skills training for officials dealing with land restitution is necessary, whilst an updated land audit is required.
- There is need for a Land and Economy Convention, similar to the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA). This was held to negotiate the country’s peaceful transition to democracy. A role for the new convention would be to address poverty, inequality and unemployment. The aim would be to restore citizens’ dignity, strengthen the economy and advance democracy.
Plenty of food for thought in there, and it’s clear from those points that much work is still to be done before the wheels of “orderly” land reform can be set in motion.
Wherever you stand on this, can we just agree that Black First Land First and Andile Mngxitama are truly awful?