South Africa: Land Reform Green Paper Released

The discussion paper on South Africa’s “emotive” land reform issue is now out, and the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, is set to table it in Parliament later today.

Releasing it to the media on Wednesday, he said that the draft Land Protection Bill would be out in the next three months.

The minister said consultations around land reform were scheduled for completion in the next two months.

Nkwinti is set to meet with the National Reference Group for land reform consultations in about a week’s time.

The group, he said, comprised various stakeholders with a “direct interest on land.”

The Green Paper is coming at a time when the minister has committed R49 million to complete a land audit process across the country by March next year.

Part of the introduction to the discussion paper said the department’s strategy was fittingly “agrarian transformation.”

“The goal of the strategy is ‘social cohesion and development.’ All anti-colonial struggles are, at the core, about two things: repossession of land lost through force or deceit; and, restoring the centrality of indigenous culture.”

The vision set out in the paper ensured that “all South Africans, particularly rural blacks,” had access to land with secure rights which fulfilled their basic needs “for housing and productive livelihoods.”

It also sought to “clearly define property rights” and “secure forms of long-term land tenure for resident non-citizens” and ensure “effective land use planning and regulatory systems.”

The paper sets out the establishment of an “autonomous” Land Management Commission (LMC), which would be accountable to the department.

Part of its functions would include issuing “advisory opinions, research and guidelines on land management to all related departments and state organs.”

The LMC would have the power to “seize or confiscate land gotten through fraudulent or corrupt means.”

It would also have the power to “verify and/or validate/invalidate individual or corporate title deeds.”

Apart from chasing government’s target of 30 percent land redistribution by 2013, Nkwinti said that it was equally important to ensure that redistributed land was productive.

“We have to make sure that when we distribute land, it has to be productive.”