Minister's contradiction on land ownership - The Citizen

18 November 2020 - A great deal could be said about Minister Patricia de Lille's recent remarks about the capacity of land reform to unlock economic potential. But one glaring contradiction is inescapable.

Terence Corrigan

A great deal could be said about Minister Patricia de Lille's recent remarks about the capacity of land reform to unlock economic potential. But one glaring contradiction is inescapable.

The public works and infrastructure minister said recently: "The possession of land connotes security and a better life; a permanent possession that can be passed on for generations."

Yet, in terms of the government's own land redistribution policy, private ownership is explicitly rejected and has been for years.

The 2013 State Land Lease and Disposal policy made it clear that beneficiaries would need to live as state tenants for decades before any consideration might be given to their purchasing their holdings and then only those who had shown an ability to produce on a significant commercial scale.

During the February 2015 parliamentary debate on amending the "property clause" in the constitution, then minister Gugile Nkwinti devoted much of his speech to rejecting private ownership and title deeds, insisting rather that "a progressive revolutionary government ought to then have land and allocate it to people".

Contrary to what the minister implies, policy on redistribution rejects private "possession".

Whether "security" and "passing it on for generations" is possible will depend on the goodwill of the state which has not always shown it.

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