Guest Column

False information on land reform process a disservice to South Africa

2018-08-27 11:54
Members of the public at the Constitutional Review Committee's public hearing.  (Jan Gerber/News24)

Members of the public at the Constitutional Review Committee's public hearing. (Jan Gerber/News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Lindiwe Sisulu

When government announced earlier this year that the issue of land reform would be addressed through a consultative process, interest groups that represent a minority of the people of South Africa started to spread lies and half-truths internationally.

They peddled false and exaggerated information and conclusions that have been disproved many times by concrete facts. The question is: what are the objectives of these groups, which travel internationally, consistently working on a conscious campaign aimed at challenging the sovereignty and institutions of a democratic South Africa?

One of the lies doing the rounds is the notion that a section of the South African population is being targeted for deliberate and calculated violence. While South Africa, like any other country in the world, does experience acts of criminality, there has never been any targeting of any specific part of the populace people because of the colour of their skin, as was the official policy during the many years of apartheid rule.

The land reform process is receiving ongoing attention by government and Parliament, using constitutional channels so as to ensure that the people of South Africa participate in addressing this sensitive issue, which is a legacy of apartheid and racially-exclusive policies that denied the majority of black South Africans their rights, including access to land.

The issue of disparity in land ownership is part of the unfortunate past of South Africa during which ownership was based on the colour of people’s skins. This is part of a cruel history seeing the majority of the people being stripped of their rights, their land and their assets. This history of racially-based and unequal ownership of land among South Africans contributes greatly to the economic disparities experienced today.

Critically, this apartheid legacy means that today, 72% of agricultural land is owned by white people; 15% by coloured people; 5% by Indian people; and 4% by African people. This in a country where white people constitute 8.9% of the population; coloured people 8.9%; Indian people 0.2%; and African people 79.2%. 

This racial inequity in land ownership, like other forms of injustices in South Africa, continues to cause instability in the country. Since 1994, government has introduced numerous measures to scrap apartheid laws and reverse racial inequalities, be they in skills development, employment, business opportunities and property ownership.

As part of these efforts to build a non-racial and non-sexist society, government continues to address the huge disparities in land ownership, which is one of the major contributory factors to inequality and social instability.

In February 2018, Parliament adopted a motion, giving a mandate to parliamentarians to investigate the possibility of a constitutional amendment that would allow for land expropriation without compensation as part of redressing the legacy of apartheid. In this way, the public representatives of South Africa decided to embark on a lawful and a constitutional route that includes extensive consultations with the country’s citizens. These consultations have taken place and there has been healthy, robust and useful debates around the issues of land ownership.

The ruling party, the African National Congress, has made it clear that while the parliamentary process is ongoing, there are conditions under which land expropriation without compensation must take place, namely, that land reform should not undermine food security and investment in the economy or damage agricultural production. The land reform process must provide certainty and clarity on property rights. The proposed amendment should reinforce the fundamental principles of property rights and prohibit the arbitrary depravation of property. 

Furthermore, no provision must impede the process of land reform. Land to be expropriated would be unused land, derelict buildings, purely speculative land holdings or instances where occupiers have strong historical rights. Another condition is the release of well-located urban land for low-cost housing so that the poor can own property and live closer to economic opportunities. Support to the beneficiaries of land reform through finance, training, market access and the providing the necessary tools of trade, is also a prerequisite.

South Africans who are seriously interested in resolving the problems of our country and want to ensure that we move away from the legacy of apartheid, are encouraged to utilise the legal and constitutional mechanisms that have been made available.

- Sisulu is Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

Read more on:    lindiwe sisulu  |  farm murders  |  land expropiation  |  land


Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.