South African lawyer and author, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi says government has failed to adequately address land reform and that the process is flawed by corruption.
Ngcukaitobi was delivering the 2022 Dr Phyllis Naidoo Memorial Lecture at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Naidoo was an anti-apartheid activist, teacher and lawyer who recorded the history of the anti-apartheid struggle through her writings. She was a member of the Natal Indian Congress, the South African Communist Party and uMkhonto we Sizwe.
Ngcukaitobi shares his views on the challenges around land reform in South Africa and the way forward.
“Land re-distribution is driven by land owners. They decide which land is sold, whether, by direct negotiations at Versailles sales for auctions, land owners decide the conditions under which the land is sold through the willing-seller willing-buyer model. This means that they set the price not the buyer nor the state. The buyer’s choice is to forego the transaction if they do not like the price. Owners also decide who the buyer will be; there is no compulsion to sell to the state. They also decide what land is used for including the type of farming that is to be undertaken on a particular piece of ground,” says Ngcukaitobi.
He claims that South Africa’s land reform story is filled with chronic and systematic corruption on both sides.
“Claimants are corrupt. I’ve seen many landowners are equally corrupt. I have also seen many and the state is corrupt. That goes without saying that in 2018, the SIU produced its report in which it examined 148 land reform projects and it found that at least one out of every four claims is fraudulent. The bogus beneficiaries rent a crowd of 49 individuals who purport to be claimants but they have no relationship to the land at all. The prices are usually grossly inflated,” Ngcukaitobi explains.