Presidential panel submits long-delayed report on land reform

Draft land reform bill set to be debated again in October.
President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed a panel of experts to advise government on how to resolve the issue of land reform, restitution and redistribution. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

A panel of experts appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to advise South Africa’s government on how to resolve the issue of land reform, restitution and redistribution handed in its final report on Tuesday, the presidency said.

Land rights are among the most pressing issues in South Africa more than two decades after the end of apartheid, when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

Last year, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to seize land without compensation.

The plans were approved by parliament in December and the draft land reform bill is set to be debated again in October. The report by the advisory panel will be key to how the final law will look.

Policy aspects investigated by the panel included the level of financial support given to new farmers, compensation for current land owners on targeted land and what forms of ownership or leasehold regimes will be pursed.

The presidency said the report, which had been due in April but was delayed by disagreements between panel members and over the scope of their mandate, would be put to the cabinet before being released publicly.

If the government decided to push ahead with wider powers to seize land without payment, it could see local and international investors lose out on land earmarked or already used for mining, farming and other commercial activities.

The lead up to May’s election saw an increase in protests and political jostling over access to both agricultural and residential land as concern over the issue mounts.

To become law, the reforms would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa. It is unclear how long this process would take.

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“when millions among the black majority were dispossessed” lets stick to facts. Up to 1998 there was 79 500 land claims. Doubt that it would add up to “millions”.

“When millions of the black population were dispossessed” – a rather sweeping statement by the journalist for the authoritative Reuters .

Please explain where and when this dispossession took place.

Remarkably few comments. I would have expected a bit of debate.

Done deal there’s no turning back.

End of comments.

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