Cosatu hits out at slow pace of land redistribution and rampant gender inequality

Farming the land. l PIETER WIESER/PIXABAY

Farming the land. l PIETER WIESER/PIXABAY

Published Sep 9, 2022


Durban – Cosatu has hit out at the slow pace of land redistribution in South Africa since the dawn of democracy.

The federation has also criticised the gender inequality of the process – with only 7.7% of land claims beneficiaries being women.

The criticism of the snail's pace of the land redistribution programme was contained in Cosatu’s Socio Economic and International Report which is set to be tabled at the federation's 14th national congress scheduled for September 26 to 29 in Johannesburg.

As part of its preparations for the much-awaited 14th national congress, Cosatu released its documents to be tabled for discussion at the congress. It included the organisational report, political report and the policy documents.

On land redistribution, Cosatu said that land restitution and tenure reform policies had failed. Of over 79 000 claims that were initially lodged for restitution, only 560 claims a year had been finalised.

Numsa members protest inside opposite Cosatu House in Braamfontein. l NHLANHLA PHILLIPS

“In terms of redistribution, the ANC government agreed as part of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) to redistribute 30% of agricultural land to the poor and landless over five years.

“However, it soon became clear that this target would not be met, and by 2017, just 5.5% of agricultural land had been redistributed. The process has been too slow and there has been inequality in terms of gender in that only 7.7% of land claim beneficiaries were women,” Cosatu said.

The federation also went on to say that in terms of tenure reform, evictions of vulnerable groups such as labour tenants, farmworkers, and women had increased since the dawn of South Africa’s democracy in 1994.

“The failure to meaningfully address land reform since 1994 has meant that the dualistic structure of the economy has been maintained. The dualistic structure refers to two separate but related economies; the first being the capital-intensive commercial farming sector which is prevalent in the former white-only rural areas and is still mostly white-owned.

“The second is the areas of the former ‘homelands’ where agriculture is labour-intensive and low-input, but is an important form of subsistence for these communities.

“Segregation and consolidation of land ownership has affected agriculture by perpetuating the dual nature of the sector. It has also increased the costs of public transport development because of urban sprawl,” Cosatu said.

The union added that the lack of land redistribution made the acquisition of land for the mining industry problematic and that this was particularly the case because proper processes were not followed to access land and this resulted in the continuation of land dispossession.