Opinionista Thandeka Mbabama 4 May 2018

The ANC-led government is the root cause of failed land reform

Since the land question has been brought to the fore and subsequently thrust into the heart of the country’s discourse, more and more evidence by industry experts, independent researchers including researchers from the Institute for Poverty, Land Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape (Plaas), has pointed out that the failure of the land reform project falls squarely at the feet of the ANC.

In the High Level Panel Report led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe, it became more apparent that the ANC has failed to advance black people’s progress in land rights since the advent of the new democratic dispensation. This dismal failure cannot be overstated.

The reality is that the ANC has done very little, if anything, to address the vestiges of the draconian apartheid regime which resulted in black people being brutally dispossessed of land.

It can’t be that those who endured untold suffering in the past continue to be subjected to the same sub-human standards, if not worse, under the governing party.

This is a double whammy for our people who lived through the most horrific times during the height of apartheid, and yet their circumstances have not changed. If the ANC was genuine in its quest to address the land question, which is at the heart of South Africa’s socio-economic discourse, surely they would start by owning up to their dismal failures to resolve and accelerate land reform.

The reality is that the ANC has abused the very power bestowed upon it by the people to govern for the people.

Aninka Claassens of the High Level Panel stated that successive ministers of rural development and land reform have failed to ensure that the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) is upheld, which is in breach of section 25(6) of the Constitution and this has contributed to the breakdown in land administration.

The Act, enacted in 1996, was put in place to temporarily protect people’s insecure land rights. Parliament and the government have failed to find a permanent solution to this. This is evidenced by the arbitrary disregard of the land rights of people in communal areas, where communities are often not consulted when developers and mines want to use their land.

The ANC’s land reform programmes have completely regressed due to rampant corruption, inefficiency and elite capture. These are but a few in the array of examples of land reform impediments. These impediments have resulted in the utter failure to have any meaningful redress in land reform.

The ANC must show political will to fast-track land reform and bring about justice to the black majority who are destitute and have no dignity of land rights. The only way to do that is to deliver the land to its rightful owners and to do it within the realm of our constitution. The DA is adamant that the Constitution is not an impediment to land reform.

The DA will not buckle down to any political pressure from the ANC and EFF and allow for expropriation of land without compensation to go ahead as this would undermine our economy and severely hurt the poor and the most vulnerable in our society.

The DA is committed to expanding support for black farmers, especially black female farmers. Unfortunately, the ANC is using expropriation without compensation to hide their own failures and decades of gross mismanagement of the land reform process. The DA maintains that expropriation without compensation is bad in principle, and in practice exonerates the ANC from accounting for their wide-scale corruption and cronyism.

It is of great concern to the DA that there’s been minimal support for black South African entrepreneurs who are unable to expand their businesses in order to create job opportunities due to financial constraints. Post settlement technical support and funding for emerging farmers is critically important to the DA as this is one of the biggest impediments to the sustainability of land reform projects.

The DA is the only party which truly seeks to achieve the aims of land reform and to do so in a way that empowers black people. In the Western Cape, this approach has led to the success of 62% of all land reform farms. DM

Thandeka Mbabama MP is DA Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform

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