Youth’s perspective: This land is ours too

The developments regarding land expropriation with or without compensation are very important to our constitutional democracy.

The public hearings on land reform are evidence that our democracy is working.

However, the question is whether the youth benefit from land expropriation or not. Will it just follow the same route as BEE, which smilingly benefited those who were and are still near the ruling elite?

Such a view is very strong within some circles in our society and arises from the fact that our neighbour Zimbabwe had an intensive land reform policy implementation which was applauded by many as a victory for ordinary citizens.

However, years later it was discovered that the majority of those who were close to the ruling elite benefited more than ordinary citizens.

This rightfully or wrongly has intensified a strong narrative based on a notion that if this issue is not handled correctly we will end up being another Zimbabwe.

In South Africa the youth are landless and jobless, but they remain hopeful that things will change for the better. This is evident in, among other things, the fact that they continue to further their studies and are keen on being entrepreneurs.

Those who are fortunate enough to be employed are first-generation middle-class workers in their families. This has resulted in them being overburdened and subsequently indebted. Some in pursuit of peace of mind end up being tenants even in their hometowns.

The amendment of the Con­stitution to allow land to be expropriated without compensation has made the youth hopeful that in the process of the expropriation of the land, government will avail residential land.

The South African government seem to only provide residential land for the purpose of building RDP houses. This is evident in the fact that 24 years into democracy government has provided residential land for building RDP houses which are sometimes on the outskirts of cities and towns.

A significant percentage of the youth are not interested in government provided RDP houses, but want land so that they can build their dream homes.

Some of the youth are looking forward to the agri­cultural land that may be availed to them in the process. Such agricultural land will appeal mostly to those who have all the necessary skills to work the land.

This article was prompted by a narrative which enforces the fact that to most of the urban youth, land means “residential land”.

To them it means availability of land for the building of dream homes and the establishment of young and thriving communities. This narrative is supported by the fact that because of our history of land dispossession, migration and urbanisation, the urban population, especially the youth, has been detached from land in as far as farming is concerned.

This is evident in the fact that the urban youth are skilled workers here, rather than workers of the land. Some might argue further that even the rural youth that work the land aspire to work in cities in South Africa.

Some researchers suggest that if one offers a city dweller a farm in the outskirts of the city, he or she is likely to turn down the offer because to them staying on the farm means something else.

To young people land expropriation means that land, whatever type, should be availed to youth because investing in the youth is investing in the future of South Africa. It means government, through municipalities, must avail residential land to urban youth, then proceed to avail the rest of the land.

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