Government is making significant strides towards fast-tracking land reform and giving back dignity to landless citizens.
This is the assertion made by Deputy President David Mabuza during a question-and-answer session in the National Assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
Mabuza said the ANC-led government was exploring different avenues to expedite land reform, among which were attempts to fast-track the process through policy reform. He also said government was making progress “on the development of an overarching land administration policy framework that prioritises the recordal of all land rights”.
With regards to the constitutionally defined route, Mabuza said Parliament was still inundated with the process of amending section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation
While noting that “access to land is an act of social justice that cannot be delayed”, Mabuza said that caution would be exercised during the expropriation process.
“Our land reform programme will continue to focus on balancing the needs of reversing the legacy of land possession and deprivation with the vision of fostering nation-building, unity and social cohesion,” he said.
He added that government’s seriousness on the matter of land reform was further emphasised when President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a presidential advisory panel on land reform and agriculture, chaired by the late Vuyokazi Mahlati.
Mabuza said the panel’s report in 2019 foregrounded the centrality of three key pillars of land reform, namely restitution, redistribution and land tenure.
“As we implement the panel’s recommendations, we will continue to pay equal attention to these key policy instruments while ensuring that our approach to land reform does not impact negatively on agricultural production and the economy in general,” the deputy president said.
His sentiments come just days after the ANC’s national executive committee (NEC), during its meeting over the weekend in what was seen by political analysts as a move to win over the Radical Economic Transformation faction within the party, resolved to forge ahead with its conference resolution to see through the process of land reform.
After the NEC meeting, Ramaphosa said: “As part of its commitment to tackling the historical injustice of land dispossession, the NEC discussed the process of amending section 25 to explicitly make provision for the expropriation of land without compensation.”
He said the resolution was informed “by the direction of our national conference that land reform must take place in a manner that strengthens the agricultural sector, improves economic growth and significantly tackles inequality, poverty and unemployment”.
Ramaphosa said NEC members “welcomed the progress that has been made in the parliamentary process and urged government to bolster resources and capacity to effect land reform and restitution at a faster pace”.