File photo: INLSA
The land issue in the country was placed under the spotlight at a seminar held at the University of the Western Cape, with senior researchers from the institution saying the constitution was not the obstacle to land reform - rather, it was a lack of political will to drive a process of redistribution.

The seminar, titled "Land expropriation without compensation: Why, how and what else?", was recently held at UWC to help create more understanding of the land situation and an outline of a possible future path.

It was led by Professor Ruth Hall, senior researcher at UWC’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies.

On February 27, Parliament adopted a resolution to appoint a constitutional review committee to investigate whether to amend the constitution to make provision for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Hall said the constitution already provided the state with substantial powers to move this process ahead.

“The questions we should be asking is: Who should be benefiting from land reform: are we pro-poor; and whose interests should be advanced? 

"It is very clear the demand for land is not just about farm land. There is a huge demand for well-located land within the cities,” said Hall.

She believed the debate should be about what was needed to implement a land reform process that overcame spatial apartheid in the rural and urban areas, and as a way to transcend divides.

She said land reform could be used to overcome spatial apartheid in rural and urban areas, and the debate on expropriation without compensation was secondary and a distraction.

“The exciting thing about the discussions was how it allowed those in attendance to start thinking about alternatives from what we have now,” said Hall.

“It’s not just about farming, but well-located land, inclusive cities, and democratic and egalitarian land-holding in this country.

"The focus should be on what we are trying to achieve through a land reform process, who should be benefiting, and how our cities and countrysides could look different in the future.”