Land tenure to take centre stage at summit

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pretoria - Land tenure reform will take centre stage at a three-day National Land Tenure Summit in Johannesburg next week.

The summit, which seeks to address the challenges facing land tenure reform in South Africa, is to be hosted by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.

Some of the issues the summit will tackle include tenure insecurity in commercial farming areas, tenure challenges in communal areas, and how best to resolve South Africa’s land reform 20-years since the dawn of democracy.

“This land tenure summit will provide critical debate and create a social dialogue on various aspects of transforming land ownership patterns,” said Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.

"We want to get South Africa talking about the various policy proposals we have put before them. Let's engage with these policy proposals and find lasting solutions.

“Let’s engage with everybody and come up with the best ways to resolve the issue of land tenure and land tenure administration.”

The summit, which starts on Thursday, is expected to be attended by representatives from non-governmental organisations, organised agriculture, academia, farm workers, traditional leaders, government, political parties, and leading international researchers on agrarian reform.

The summit will see delegates presenting papers on a number of issues including pieces of legislation that will come before Parliament during this financial year.

The decade between 1997 and 2007 was characterised by significant shifts in ownership and land use including increasing acquisition of residential and agricultural properties by foreign nationals in certain regions.

“These trends have resulted in increased landlessness and precarious tenure for citizens, particularly residents of the former reserve areas and commercial farming areas.

“These proposals will be presented to the national Land Tenure Summit in an attempt to address the growing land tenure insecurity problems which impact negatively on about 20 million people living in commercial farming areas, communal areas and in formal and informal townships,” the Minister said.

The proposed tenure reform policy seeks to reverse the wide range of tenure insecurities that were engendered throughout through land dispossession, human degradation and exploitation.

Minister Nkwinti said the summit was well poised to accelerate the process of rural development and land reform.

He was confident the summit would bring meaningful dialogue on issues of land tenure and ensure that together stakeholders are indeed moving South Africa forward. -