Land issue tough act for Cyril
More than two decades after the end of apartheid, one of the challenges facing the ANC is how to transfer agricultural land to blacks.
Partly because the constitution forbids taking land without compensation and partly, critics say, due to government inertia, the ANC has up to now been slow to deliver, resulting in less than 10% of arable land being transferred since it came to power in 1994.
But now the ANC is being forced to confront redistribution more robustly ahead of elections next year and has begun a parliamentary process to look at reviewing the constitution to expropriate land without compensation.
The EFF has stepped up its demand for land transformation this year, warning its partner in three metros, the DA, which opposes expropriation without compensation, that it would have it unseated.
The government cited a recent state land audit showing that black South Africans account for nearly 80% of the population, but directly own only 1.2% of rural land and 7% of urban. Lobby groups such as Agri SA, representing mainly white commercial farmers, dispute that data.
Ramaphosa has stressed that any land redistribution should not have a negative impact on food security, agricultural production and the economy. A parliamentary report-back is due by the end of August.
The DA has tabled its own proposals to boost black ownership of both agricultural and urban land.
These include giving new and past recipients of state-subsidised housing full title and distributing thousands of government-owned farms and fallow land.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane said any abrogation of private property rights will fundamentally undermine South Africa’s economy and lead to much greater poverty and unemployment. Following a two-day meeting of the DA’s federal executive, Maimane said the DA supported land restitution, urging the government to distribute the over 4300 state-owned farms and more than 1.9 million hectares of unused state-owned land to emerging black farmers without delay.