Deputy Minister of Public Works Jeremy Cronin speaks at Saint George Hotel, Pretoria. File picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS
Public Works Deputy Minister Jeremy Cronin says people should be careful of imagining the expropriation of land, with or without compensation, will be a silver bullet to fix South Africa’s unsatisfactory land reform programme.

“With land restitution you have to show that you are a legitimate claimant, that your great-grandparents or grandparents occupied a piece of land, or houses and were forcibly removed.

“With the restitution programme, you to have to prove the right to your claim, and often there’s no documentation available and it becomes a very complicated legal process,” Cronin said.

He said as families grew bigger, it became difficult to know who should really get the land, with another factor being that not all people necessarily wanted to go back to the land that was taken away because they had moved on to live in towns and cities.

“A lot of the claimants are taking money compensation instead of actually going back to the land. And that’s fair, because huge injustices were committed against black people,” said Cronin.

However, he added that when communities and individuals took monetary compensation, it meant the racialised patterns of land ownership and use were not changed, meaning the continued discrimination against black people.

“With redistribution, we can do it for the poor living on the margins of cities far away from work and amenities.

“We can use land redistribution for housing regardless of where the people originally were or whether their grandfathers or grandmothers were in that particular location.

“Critically, on redistribution, we need to make sure that it’s not a political elite, like in Zimbabwe, for instance, that tends to be the beneficiaries. It needs to be those who are most desperate.”

A new draft expropriation bill is currently being drafted, as the 2015 Expropriation Bill was recently withdrawn for redrafting.

Cronin said the new expropriation bill would describe the process to be followed when land is expropriated.

The new bill would probably only be tabled in Parliament next year, he said.

Political Bureau