No land reform before audit, says DA

Until government has completed a comprehensive audit of what land it owns and in what condition it is in, land reform will be seriously compromised, says Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Lindiwe Mazibuko.

On Monday the official opposition presented its alternative to the green paper on land reform that was unveiled by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti in late August.

Referring to the green paper, Mazibuko said that somewhere between 19% and 30% of South Africa’s total land was owned by government or state-owned-entities.

“Until a proper audit is done and the state of the land is established, there can be no proper land reform process,” Mazibuko said.

Turning specifically to the green paper Mazibuko said: “As expected, it relies heavily on a discourse of apartheid and colonial dispossession while paying no attention to government inefficiencies after 17 years in power.”

Mazibuko continued to say that: “Most importantly, it offers no vision of how to substantially address the inequities bequeathed by apartheid in a coherent and sustainable way. If the green paper is implemented in its current form, the landless of South Africa will continue to feel the effects of the past.

She said there was no question that South Africa needed an effective and well-implemented land reform programme.

“It is a moral imperative that the injustices created by the 1913 Land Act — which forced millions of black South Africans off their land — are addressed,” Mazibuko said.

Land management commission
In its response, the DA said that its own vision for land reform was developing the rural economy in which the injustices of apartheid and colonialism were redressed through a combination of sustainable job-creating economic growth, and a well-managed and appropriately resourced land restitution and redistribution programme.

The party recommended an extension of the Western Cape’s programme of encouraging commercial farmers to sell shares in their farms to their workers, who had been educated on the principles of profit sharing.

However, Mazibuko acknowledged that the DA had to still formulate a full policy on rural development and land reform.

She said the DA would develop a more comprehensive rural development and land reform policy as part of its overall economic policy to get the country’s GDP to grow by 8% per year. This policy, Mazibuko said, should be completed by year end.

The DA expressed its concern with the green paper over the proposed creation of a land management commission that would be given wide-ranging discretionary powers to subpoena, award amnesty and invalidate land ownership.

Judicial powers
“These are powers that should be in the hands of the courts, not in a quasi-autonomous body within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and accountable to the ministry,” Mazibuko said.

The DA also expressed concerns about the establishment of a land valuer-general, who would be mandated to determine financial compensation in cases of land expropriation.

“Again, this is a task that should be left to the judiciary — as specifically provided for in the Constitution. Appointing a non-independent body to determine compensation will be open to abuse and undermine the constitutional principle of willing-buyer-willing-seller,” Mazibuko said.

DA deputy rural development and land reform shadow minister Annette Steyn said another major concern was with the government’s focus on the three-million South Africans who live and work on privately-owned farms, while failing adequately to deal with the issue of communal land tenure, which affects the 16-million landless South Africans who reside in the former apartheid homelands. — I-Net Bridge

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