Letter: Land reform issue - Businesslive

16 September 2019 - If land reform is to mean something truly significant, its beneficiaries — black farming households and communities — deserve nothing less than the registered ownership that other farmers take for granted.

The announcement by deputy president David Mabuza that the government will soon release criteria for redistributing state-owned land is, potentially, an important and positive development.

Whether this is indeed the case will depend on those criteria. The main question — among many others — is whether the government intends to confer title on the beneficiaries. Will it grant them property, or merely a truncated “access to land” as perpetual tenants of the state?

This is an important issue in light of the court victory of Limpopo farmer David Rakgase in the high court in Pretoria for the right to purchase land he has farmed for close on three decades and which the government had agreed to sell to him in 2002.

The position of the government, communicated in court papers by acting director-general Rendani Sadiki, is the “principle that black farming households and communities may obtain 30-year leases, renewable for a further 20 years, before the state will consider transferring ownership to them”. This is in line with the prevailing state land lease and disposal policy.

If land reform is to mean something truly significant, its beneficiaries — black farming households and communities — deserve nothing less than the registered ownership that other farmers take for granted. Whether the government will turn from its current path to achieve this remains to be seen.

Terence Corrigan
Project manager, Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2019-09-15-letter-land-reform-issue/

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