Jan 03, 2012

Afrikaner: AfriForum Vows to Fight Land Reform Proposals

AfriForum questions the constitutional validity of the green paper on land reform


The following article was published by BusinessDay:

AFRIFORUM on Thursday [29 December 2011] questioned the constitutional validity of the green paper on land reform, vowing "to use all valuable avenues to oppose" it, a day before public submissions deadline.


The green paper’s radical proposals have been criticised by agriculture unions as a threat to property rights, while academics and nongovernmental organisations found that it inadequately addressed the shortcomings of the government’s initial land distribution efforts. Opposition parties also criticised the bill for shying away from addressing women’s land rights under traditional leadership jurisdictions.


Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has said in the past that the paper proposes three pillars that include a land management commission, a land valuer-general and a land rights management board, with local management committees. These would collectively keep track of land sales, ensure there were proper records, and "facilitate productive land usage and an equitable land distribution".


AfriForum spokesman on economic affairs Cornelius Jansen van Rensburg rejected the whole document, saying its key proposals were "totally unacceptable".


Issues identified as likely to cause concern included the proposed "severe limitations" on private ownership, the powers granted to the valuer-general to determine the value of land, the commission’s powers to invalidate title deeds and confiscate land, and the state’s right to intervene regarding the use of land.


"The green paper carries within it the ability to render constitutional rights null and void and as a consequence can undermine economic prosperity, as well as social and political stability," Mr Jansen van Rensburg said.


Lindiwe Mazibuko, then the Democratic Alliance spokeswoman on rural development and land reform, said in September that land reform should start with the restoration of land-ownership rights for South Africans living on traditional and communal land owned by kings and chiefs.


She said the government needed to first identify where the current implementation challenges in its own department were, rather than focus almost entirely "on the faults of our history, as well as attempting to argue that the current economic environment and property ownership systems are to blame for the state’s failure to implement an effective programme of land reform".


Centre for African Renaissance Studies director Prof Shadrack Gutto, who chaired a commission four years ago that recommended a moratorium on foreign ownership of land, has called for Codesa-style negotiations for land reform.


It should focus on, among others, in-perpetuity freehold on private land and security of tenure for farm dwellers.