‘Structures undermine land reform’

2010-07-15 00:00

THE weak structures governing land reform are susceptible to corruption and are negatively impacting the potential success of the land reform process, according to a paper by the Institute for Security Studies.

The paper, entitled “SA Land Governing Structure — Conduits for Illicit Self- enrichment?”, was written by Andile Sokomani, a senior researcher for the corruption and governance programme at the institution.

He argues that many structures that are supposed to facilitate land reform are actually crippling the process as they are grappling with the corrupt practices that are affecting their proper functioning.

Among the structures he singles out are the Land Bank, the Community Property Association (CPA), the Community Trust, and the vesting of the restituted and redistributed land with the amakhosi and monarchs.

Sokomani says the land reform process will not benefit the claimants as long these governing structures continue to be vulnerable to corruption.

He says the Land Bank is failing in its mandate of investing in the country’s agri-business sector, with an emphasis on bringing into the fold marginalised black farmers, as it is being plundered by politically linked individuals.

“The diversion of the bank’s agricultural development funds into the coffers of politically connected individuals has been a subject of extensive media coverage,” he addds.

Sokomani says the clean-up of the structures should be extended to the CPAs and community trusts, the most common form in which the beneficiaries of land restitution and land redistribution hold land.

“These have proven to be a great conduit for the illicit self-enrichment of undemocratically appointed individuals who purport to be community representatives.”

He adds that the alternative to the CPAs, which is vesting ownership of restituted and redistributed land in amakhosi and kings who hold it in trust on behalf of their peoples or subjects, should also be looked at.

“This mode of property ownership has also proven to be a major recipe for corruption with all the classic textbook examples associated with unilateral decision making and unfettered discretion.”

Sokomani says the clean-up and strengthening of these structures will help to curb the waste of needed funds.

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