Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture says it supports the proposed policy shift to use constitutional provisions to expropriate land without compensation.
Presenting the report during the media briefing on Sunday, the Advisory Panel Chairperson, Dr Vuyo Mahlati says the panel agrees that land expropriation without compensation may be necessary but only in limited certain circumstances.
President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the panel in September 2018 to provide a unified perspective on land reform and offer independent advice to the Inter-Ministerial Committee chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.
The panel says deadlines for plans for the implementation of its recommendations should be strictly adhered to. The panel’s chairperson, Dr Vuyo Mahlati, says some recommendations can be implemented immediately, while a new white paper on land reform should be completed by 2021.
Mahlati has also called on government to settle old and legitimate land claims as soon as possible.
“The recommendations deal with immediate recommendations where we believe as soon as we leave today the department can address some of the issues without delving into serious legislative processes which take time. But we specifically gave the white paper process deadline of by 2021 we should have it; because we recognise that some of the proposals that we’re putting forward are going to require a process.”
Redistribution of land
With regard to the redistribution of land, Dr Mahlathi says the government’s priority should be those who have an urgent need for land. She says the distribution of land should not depend on the willing-buyer willing-seller provision.
IN: “This is an area we believe has not managed to get the right attention and clarity including resourcing by government which forms part of the failure of land reform. We proposal a pro-active targeted area-based approach and withing this, we actually indicate that land redistribution should no longer depend on willing buyers, willing sellers, offering the land for sale, instead we believe and propose that government should pursue a more pro-active target of acquisition of land, identified as needed.”
Historical legacy of dispossession
Meanwhile the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, says government is dealing with the historical legacy of dispossession and recognising the multi-faceted role of land in the economy and social development as it attempts to address the land issue.
Didiza says the panel looked at how to speedily deliver land for human settlements to deracialise communities.
“Particularly having expropriation of land without compensation as one of the mechanisms. We have experienced a lot of conversations in our society and in particular our Parliamentary process of Constitutional Review which saw many of our people participating in reflecting whether or not Section 25 needs amendment. The President appointed the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform to ensure that our land reform programme is co-ordinated and fast-tracked. The committee has undertaken a lot of work in this regard.”