Land Redistribution in South Africa within the Radical Economic Transformation Framework
Posted: 31 Oct 2017
Date Written: October 30, 2017
During the national liberation struggle the African National Congress’s strategic objective was the transfer of state power into the hands of the democratic majority. The phrase ‘radical economic transformation (RET) has entered South Africa’s daily lexicon in 2017 with medias, academics and even using the concept for new measures used by the African National Congress to uplift the poor of the poors in South Africa. But what is RET from agricultural perspective? Does it mean taking from the haves and giving it to the have nots Mugabe style, or is it simply a synonym for inclusive growth?
According to Van Zyl (2017), Radical economic transformation means an economy in which: 1. Goods and property cannot be confiscated for political purposes and citizens are secure in the knowledge that their property is safe. 2. Taxes are low and are not used to fund massive bureaucracies. Citizens are allowed to keep the more of the money they earn. 3. Buyers and sellers trading freely in an open market without Government interference determine the prices of goods and services. Arbitrarily high prices are avoided. 4. Professional development is simple and reasonable without paternal government supervision. ‘Licenses’ and ‘clearance certificates’ would no longer be required for people to do something they are perfectly capable of doing without state interference. 5. Purchasing smallholdings becomes the same as any other property transaction with no need to ask for ‘permission’ from government to subdivide agricultural land. 6. Starting businesses is easy removing the need to submit complex forms and documents mandated by financial services regulations or have to adhere to arbitrary zoning bylaws. 7. Corruption is substantially reduced. Less political involvement in the economy would reduce the possibility of cronyism and unethical ‘tenderpreneurship’.
A recent report by Landbou.com (2017) asserted that black people already own more than half of all agricultural land in two of South Africa’s most fertile provinces: the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal. This is according to an audit of land ownership, to be released this week. According to the report, landowners who are not white own 26.7% of agricultural ground and control more than 46% of South Africa’s agricultural potential. These statistics are contained in a comprehensive land audit undertaken by economist Johann Bornman in partnership with magazine Landbouweekblad and Agri SA, which, with a large donation, made it possible to obtain data about hundreds of thousands of land transactions from the deeds office, as well as geographical data.
An audit of this type has never been done in South Africa and is being released amid huge political pressure to increase the pace of land reform. For Ernest Pringle, chairperson of Agri SA’s policy committee on agricultural development, his organisation realised long ago that a comprehensive land audit was imperative because policy being driven by perception and emotion, instead of facts was not rational. A disturbing fact that emerged during the audit is that available agricultural land had declined by 4% over the past 23 years, from 97.03 million hectares to 93.25 million hectares. Unfortunately, Ndedi and Kok (2017) asserted that for radical economic transformation to be fully implemented, it is necessary for the Constitution’s commitment to ‘just and equitable’ compensation for the acquisition of land for land reform purposes should be codified and should replacement for market-based valuations of land. The process must be facilitated and accelerated by the passing of updated expropriation legislation by Parliament, and the Government should take heed of the Constitutional Court’s finding that agreement on the quantum of fair compensation is not a pre-condition for land redistribution to take place and should never pay a premium in purchasing land for the purpose of land reform. (Ndedi and Kok, 2017) According to the author, the success of land redistribution will be improved if there is greater oversight over land, farming equipment and technical skills transfer to the beneficiaries of land reform. (Ndedi and Kok, 2017) Substantial investment in irrigation infrastructure is required, as is the resolving of water rights and the control over the allocation of water rights, and as is greater investment in innovative market linkages for small-scale farmers in communal and land reform areas. Furthermore, institutional capacity needs to be improved with regards to accurate record keeping and the removal of uncertainties with regard to the roles of various overlapping public sector bodies involved in land reform.
This article just intends to develop a framework for better implementation of the radical economic transformation from an agricultural perspective.
Keywords: Radical Economic Transformation, Land Redistribution, South Africa, African National Congress
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