OUTCRY: Members of the Bo-Kaap Civic Association picket outside the Western Cape High Court against the planned development in the area. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
Stellenbosch - Land reform has failed in the Western Cape. These were the sentiments of University of the Western Cape Professor Ruth Hall, who addressed the ANC’s provincial land summit in Stellenbosch this weekend.

The summit comes against the backdrop of Parliament’s constitutional review committee’s public hearings being held across the country on the possible amendment to the constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

In her presentation, Hall analysed the Western Cape’s performance in comparison to the rest of the country, lamenting the failure in the province was the fault of national government and the ANC.

She said with 0.4% of the national budget allocated to all land reform, the rate of land reform had declined over the years.

“We need to acknowledge several big truths about land reform. The Western Cape has done very badly, land reform has failed in the Western Cape.

“But firstly, land reform is a national government competency so it is the national government, the ANC’s fault. Secondly, the Constitution is not to blame.

“It has not been used and thirdly land reform can change the Western Cape for the better. The question is what is our vision?

“In the Western Cape, there has been relatively limited land reform. The Western Cape has no former homelands but it accounts for only 1% of black farming households.It has the largest number of farmworkers and dwellers, but the smallest number of black farming households so clearly the focus of land reform in this province has to be on people who are already living and working on farms.”

Hall said the total amount of land redistributed in the province was 552 662 hectares, which was just a little over the provincial average of 522393ha.

She added that 321 farms had been redistributed, which was below the provincial average of 587.

“The amount spent on redistribution in the Western Cape is about R655 million and it is actually one of the lowest in the country. It is different to the rest of the country in that property prices are really high so if we put very little money in, we’re going to get very little out,” she added.

Hall said the land question, which started in the early 1990s, had included the provision of modest parcels of land for the poor through low-cost housing. The focus then shifted to black commercial farmers and then to create black shareholders within existing agricultural businesses.

“The ANC’s own history is connected with the question of land, with dispossession of land as the original sin as the basis for racial past privilege, has been a neglected issue,” she said.

“Since 1994, the ANC has neglected the land issue; there has been massive failure on the issue of land reform. But I would like to argue that there is hope for the future.

“We need to recognise that over the last 20 years, the state has sided with property owners against the interests of farm dwellers and think about how that might change.”

Hall said the solution to land reform in the province lay with identifying what the people needed and to cater for them.

As the province is plagued by violent protests, illegal land occupations, gentrification and demands for housing, NGOs and communities flocked to the summit to call on the government to live up to its promise to deliver on land reform.

Addressing challenges facing restitution in the province, District Six Working Committee chairperson Shahied Ajam said the process had not worked in the past 20 years.

“Does the ANC want to win back the Western Cape? What are they doing about District Six? The people of District Six are living in the townships, they desperately want to come back”

He said 153 families had moved into the area since 2009 and 2011 without a thought about how they were going to afford the rates and taxes in 10 years’ time.

“If there is any place that can serve as a catalyst for change it is District Six, along with Bo-Kaap which are the jewels of the Western Cape.”

He warned the ANC that when it came to votes it could “kiss District Six and Western Cape goodbye”.

Bo-Kaap Civic’s Dawooy Terblanche said: “As we are debating the expropriation of land, the constitutional rights of human dignity, the right to exist and the honour of people is being ignored and violated.

“My people are being displaced, overcrowding dominates the daily lives of my community and the economic situation of my people form parts of the factors that drive them from the only home they know.

“Our land is being sold and the developers only know interests, their rights to profits.

“As much as we (try) to include in discussion the gentrification, your silence and political will to save, protect and defend the oldest living community in South Africa is a concern.

“Cape Town metropole is being gentrified and becoming an urban hub for elitists. We need co-operative housing, affordable housing in Cape Town.

“Developers are purchasing our land, disrespecting our community and are driving our community from the Bo-Kaap.

“My community is calling on you to do the right thing, which is expropriate the land of these developers and the lands owned by the city and return them to its people.”

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