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Land reform: Who are the right beneficiaries?

Dec 07 2018 19:03
Sibongile Khumalo

The question of who should be the rightful beneficiaries of land reform came under the spotlight during a dialogue called by the presidential panel on land reform on Friday.

The panel has proposed various beneficiary categories, ranging from subsistence farmers to farm dwellers, as well as small to large scale commercial farmers, as some of the beneficiary groups.

It further states that at least 50% of the beneficiaries must be women, with 30% of the budget spend on farm workers.

Small scale farmers who have been farming for subsistence purposes and selling their produce at local markets would also be considered.

The 10-member panel, appointed in March and chaired by Vuyo Mhlati, is expected to produce a report to advise the government on how it should use its constitutional mandate on land expropriation in the interest of reform. 

Mhlati said the engagement with various stakeholders from the public sector was in preparation for a report to be submitted in March.

It also focused on where the land would come from, with possible scenarios being land donations, establishment of land depository and through a land reform fund.

The dialogue also heard various input from private and public stakeholders on the challenges slowing down the reform process.

Traditional leader Sipho Mahlangu, who chairs the National House of Traditional Leaders, expressed concern at the concept of returning land to trusts and councils which were not directly impacted by historic seizures.

"It becomes a big concern when land is returned to trusts that were nowhere when land was taken. There needs to be an inclusive process of how land is returned to the people," he said.

Some of the submissions focused on the land owned by state-owned entities as being a key strategy for urban tenure, including the establishment of a single national database of all public property.

"Public partnerships between municipalities and state-owned enterprises should be used to develop strategically located land and to promote inclusive urban land access and secure tenure for the urban poor," according to Integrated Urban Development Framework.

Speaking at the conference, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana- Mashabane said land reform cannot be only be the business of government, as the private sector also needed to become part of the conversation.

"We need business to be seriously engaged in this programme," said Nkoana-Mashabane, adding that the concept of willing-buyer-willing-seller had not yielded the desired results.

On the lessons from Zimbabwe’s land programme, development analyst Mandivamba Rakuni warned that the concept of land redress needed to be economically viable, not driven by emotions.

"The land question in Zimbabwe continues to be of heightened importance; it represents political power," said Rakuni.

 The panel will conclude its meeting on Saturday.

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maite nkoana mashabane  |  land reform
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