South Africa News

Minister Thoko Didiza explains reasons for land reform delay

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza told MPs a number of factors have caused land reform delays in the past 27 years, including legislation, policy and institutions set up to process land claims. Didiza was appearing before the ad hoc committee on land expropriation to explain some of the problems on land reform.

Her department and the Department of Public Works were asked by the ad hoc committee to provide some of the information on land reform as MPs are working on amendments to Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

Didiza said since the drafting and adoption of the Constitution after the democratic dispensation, land reform had been hit by delays.

Thoko Didiza

“Let me identify what are the challenges that we were faced with, that have impacted on land reform in the past 27 years. The Reconstruction and Development Programme as you might recall members actually envisaged that the state in the first five years will redistribute about 30 million hectares of agricultural land to those who were historically disadvantaged. The instruments, however, both in policy and legislation were inadequate to give effect to this ideal,” said Didiza.

She said on restitution, they had to set up the Land Claims Court to hear those claims. It started to operate a year after it was set up, in 1996.

But the court did not have full-time judges except for the Judge President. With the Land Claims Commission, restitution claims had to be lodged by the end of 1998.

The claimant communities as well as individuals had to lodge claims from 1995 until 1998, just before the end of the five years which then indicates what the difficulties were in terms of policy and legislative framework,” said Didiza. She said there was a problem with the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle.

There was a lack of co-ordination across the government when it came to the issue of land reform. The government had set up systems to ensure there was now better co-ordination.

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Source: IOL