Land Advisory Panel finalises inputs ahead of deadline

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Acquisition of land by the State, including expropriation and compensation, should be underpinned by a new Land Redistribution Bill, a Land Demand Survey and decentralisation of beneficiary selection to local area-based processes at municipal level.

This is just one of the many suggestions that has come out of the Second National Land Reform Colloquium hosted by the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.

The 10-member Expert Advisory Panel held its second colloquium in Pretoria from 22 to 23 February 2019. The first colloquium was held on 7-8 December 2018.

With a mandate to review existing legal, policy and institutional approach to land reform, and also advise the Presidency on a way forward, the panel invited stakeholders from across the board.

Ministers, academics, members of the judiciary and experts dealt with topics ranging from women’s rights to land and good land governance to the roles of the judiciary, social movements and the State in issues of land reform.

In terms of data presented by the Land Claims Commission, the land restitution process has, thus far, produced 3.5 million hectares at a cost of R21 billion and financial compensation amounting to R14 billion.

The award for land, financial compensation and other costs totalled R41 billion and benefited 2 117 644 people.

The commission noted that the vast majority of claims have been settled via financial compensation rather than land restoration.

Notably, the Land Claims Commission indicated that properties under restitution claim have been expropriated in 27 cases thus far, with the first being in 2006, under Section 42D of the Restitution of Land Rights Act.

The colloquium emphasised the private sector’s role in land identification and acquisition.

“This proposal refers to land donations, a land reform depository and a land reform fund in order to expedite access to land,” the panel said in a statement on Tuesday.

The panel is of the view that land administration should constitute the fourth leg of land reform, alongside redistribution, restitution and tenure reform.

The social aspects of climate change and their implications were also considered in the context of land reform.

Rural and urban land tenure models were deliberated on to facilitate, among others, the emancipation of women and spatial planning.

Private sector funds and ‘blended financing’ were suggested as financing models to support agricultural land reform.

The colloquium also heard perspectives from political parties such as the ANC, IFP and FF Plus.

“Their representatives presented diverse views, which argued either in favour or against expropriation of land without compensation. Financial institutions such as Alexander Forbes and the Land Bank shared ideas on the possible ways that may be considered to finance land reform,” said the panel. 

The advisory panel will present its final report to President Cyril Ramaphosa on 31 March 2019. –