'Bungling is blocking land reform, not the Constitution'
Corruption and cadre deployment are also culprits, AgriSA congress hears
The constitution does not stand in the way of land reform.
Instead, lack of capacity, skills, corruption, bungling and cadre deployment have seen land reform slow down dramatically.
The chairperson of the South African National Institute for Land, Heritage and Human Rights, Quinton Johnson, made these comments at the AgriSA congress in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Addressing the congress on expropriation without compensation, Johnson said the process of land redistribution from 1994 to 2016 had been slow.
The institute had held dialogues around the country on expropriation without compensation to allow people to present their views and possible solutions to the land question.
The dialogues followed the adoption by the ANC of a resolution during its 2017 conference to adopt land expropriation without compensation in order to speed up land reform.
Johnson said the existing land reform legislation must be effectively implemented.
“The Land Claims Commission and the Land Claims Court ... that were set up under the Restitution of Land Rights Act have not been effective agents for this agenda,” he said.
It was not the Constitution that stood in the way of land reform, he added.
“It is the bungling that stands in the way. It is the flat-out corruption that stands in the way. It is the limited expert skills that stand in the way, and of course cadre deployment stands in the way,” Johnson said.
He referred to former president Kgalema Motlanthe’s November 2017 report on land reform which said the need to pay compensation had not been the most serious constraint on land reform.
Other constraints, including corruption and lack of political will, had proved to be more serious stumbling blocks.
Johnson suggested that the process of land reform must be led by the Presidency, preferably through a super ministry to speed up land reform.
“There are so many departments that have a role to play that communication and execution falls by the wayside. The ministry should oversee the implementation of the national land reform plan to ensure its success.”
Johnson also said there was an inadequate budget for land reform.
“We have said this to government at the highest level that we should change the budgetary provision significantly if we are going to move the country in the right direction.”
Johnson said adopting rapid legislation to accelerate land reform is crucial, and that the Constitution permitted it.
“And also the possibility of repealing existing legislation that impede land transformation, land redistribution, land restitution and also of course security of tenure of farmworkers. That is crucial and must be pursued.”
The head of AgriSA’s Centre of Excellence on Land, Annelize Crosby, said the association supported orderly land reform but was not in favour of changing the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation.
Earlier in the day, African Rainbow Minerals chairperson Patrice Motsepe also remarked that one of the government’s failures is in the area of land reform, which has resulted in the unhappiness in the black community.