Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture
The Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture hosted the Second National Land Reform Colloquium at Saint George Hotel in Irene, outside Pretoria from 22 to 23 February 2019. The event was part of the consultation process to prepare for the release of the report at the end of March 2019.
The mandate of the Panel is to review the existing legal, policy and institutional approach to land reform, and also to advise the Presidency on a way forward pertaining to land reform in South Africa.
Over the past five months, the Panel engaged on a number of initiatives to ensure that many stakeholders across the South African society were consulted. It hosted the first colloquium on 7-8 December 2018. It also conducted research and organised roundtables that focused on specific topics including rural and urban tenure models, climate change, women’s land rights, land administration, financial services, etc.
The Second National Land Reform Colloquium was therefore a final step aimed at consolidating a wide range of inputs and comments from the different stakeholders.
High-level speakers present at the Second National Land Reform Colloquium which included ministers, academics, members of the judiciary and experts dealt with topics ranging from women’s rights to land and good land governance to the roles of the judiciary, social movements and the state in the issues of land reform.
Land reform is about achieving social justice and realising the vision contained in the Constitution, namely to transform racial inequality and reduce poverty. Most important, ‘over-judicialisation’ of land reform was cautioned against and courts were advised to only play a residual role.
In terms of data presented by the Land Claims Commission, the land restitution process has, thus far, produced 3.5 million hectares at a cost of R21 billion and financial compensation amounting to R14 billion. The award for land, financial compensation and other costs totalled R41 billion and benefited 2,117,644 people. The vast majority of claims have been settled via financial compensation rather than land restoration.
Notably, the Land Claims Commission indicated that properties under restitution claim have been expropriated in 27 cases thus far, with the first being in 2006, under Section 42D of the Restitution of Land Rights Act (as amended).
About 200 participants attended the Second National Land Reform Colloquium. And, they had an opportunity to engage and discuss some proposals from the Panel with the view of shaping the legislative/ policy and institutional arrangements to facilitate land reform in South Africa.
The first proposal concerned the subject of land demand, beneficiary selection and acquisition of land by the state, including expropriation and compensation. It was suggested that these efforts should be underpinned by a new Land Redistribution Bill, a Land Demand Survey, and decentralisation of beneficiary selection to local area-based processes at municipal level. The idea is to democratise the land reform process and beneficiary selection, which has been acknowledged as opaque to date.
The colloquium emphasised the private sector’s role in land identification and acquisition. This proposal refers to land donations, a land reform depository and a land reform fund in order to expedite access to land.
The Panel is of the view that that land administration should constitute the fourth leg of land reform, alongside redistribution, restitution and tenure reform. Social aspects of climate change and their implications were considered in the context of land reform.
Rural and urban land tenure models were deliberated on to facilitate, among others, the emancipation of women and spatial planning. Private sector funds and ‘blended financing’ were suggested to as financing models to support agricultural land reform.
The colloquium also heard perspectives from the political parties such as the ANC, IFP and FF Plus. Their representatives presented diverse views which argued either in favour or against expropriation of land without compensation. Financial institutions such as Alexander Forbes and the Land Bank shared ideas on the possible ways that may be considered to finance land reform.
The Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture will present its final report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on 31 March 2019.
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