Want land reform that works? Fine, let’s enter new territory

Ideas

Want land reform that works? Fine, let’s enter new territory

Only political direction can solve the land issue, yet the project is doomed if left to politicians courting popularity

Columnist

In the same way the popes of old suppressed the theory that Earth orbits the sun, liberation theory in SA has historically staked out the limits of discussion about land reform and its place and role in a democratic SA. The gospel that land in SA, stolen by settlers, must somehow be returned to the people has become such an article of faith that few even bother with elaborating on the details of forcing the round peg of the past into the square hole of the future. Any attempt to interpret the land issue with a solution that rights historical wrongs by anything less than the reverse engineering of history is shouted down, its bearer burnt at the social-media stake.

The middle and chattering classes, who take it upon themselves to plough the furrow of the land question on behalf of the rural masses, obsess over ownership. In part, and we are told this, ownership can be used to leverage wealth. The preachers of the religion of expropriation without compensation fail to see beyond their Elysian Field of title deeds. Behold the monocrop of ideas.

Given the potency of the land question, and that it is the Thunderflash in the fireworks box, it is unsurprising neither the ANC nor EFF want to light it any time soon. Much better keep it dry for now, and that is what they have done in failing to agree on amending the constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation...

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