Government does not trust black people with property - analyst

Mpumelelo Mkhabela (file)
Mpumelelo Mkhabela (file)

Bloemfontein – Despite achieving freedom in 1994, government still does not trust the black people of the country enough to give them title deeds to property.

Political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela, who was one of the panelists at Nation in Conversation at the Nampo Harvest Day event in Bothaville in the Free State, said that during apartheid black people were not allowed to own land in urban areas.

"Post-1994, the government does not trust black people. They cannot give them title deeds. Black people were damned then and are still damned now in a different way…The government wants to babysit people.

"There is a perception that if government gives a black person a title, they might sell the land, or if it is a RDP house, they will sell it and go and queue for another one. I think the government needs to move away from not trusting people."

Mkhabela said transformation was an imperative and must happen.

Black people must own the sector

"Conversations need to take place on how do we move forward without undermining each other. Black people need to be given their sense of agency back. They must feel that they can take back control of their lives," he said.

Another political analyst, Prince Mashele, said at the sidelines of the event that if the problems are not addressed, it could lead to another situation like what happened to Zimbabwe.

"If you were to grow the sector, involve black people in the level of ownership – in terms of skilled labour and so on – black people will realise that they own the sector," he said in response to the panel discussion on the true effects of land grabs without compensation, facilitated by Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield.

"Currently black people feel that they don't own the sector, which is why it is very easy for opportunistic politicians to tell black people that they want to take over land from white people and give it to black people.

"So we can get to a Zimbabwe situation if we don't address the challenges."

WATCH: South Africa could become like Zimbabwe - analyst

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said in response to the panel that South Africa had a long way to go before it could have meaningful and effective land transformation.

"I do not think that the government’s land reform programme has yielded the successes that it should have, in fact, we have had many failures by government. Those land reform projects that are ironically working the best are those that are in partnerships and business with emerging farmers," Steenhuisen said on the sidelines of the event.

"I think that government should be looking at a partnership model instead of looking at expropriating and trying to take land away, it should look at how we can create successful farming communities and successful black farmers in South Africa and keep food security going.

WATCH: John Steenhuisen: Government is failing on land issue

"I think that government’s rhetoric – that we are seeing from politicians lately – is dangerous. I do not think that it is helping the situation, in fact, I think it is going to make things worse.

"What we need is cool heads and a stable hand to make sure that we effect proper land restitution and reform in South Africa and achieve the best results for all South Africans."

He said he believed that the government was failing in many respects when it came to the issue of land.

"One of the most important things is land title deeds. A lot of the emerging black farmers, particularly in the former homelands, are crying out to be given a tenure so that they can use the title deed on that land, so that they can leverage finances to expand from subsistence farming to commercial farming."

He said that was an easy way for government to start.

"Let us start giving people title deeds – government own most of this land anyways."

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