Land claimants urged to verify status of outstanding claims

Photo: Robin Hammond

Land reform: Ramaphosa’s advisory team reveals its purpose and deadline

President Ramaphosa has reached out for help from experts on land, development, agriculture and law.

Land claimants urged to verify status of outstanding claims

Photo: Robin Hammond

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the creation of a 10-person advisory panel which is tasked with devising solutions to the contentious issue of land reform in South Africa.

Together with the inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform, which is chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza, the new delegation will work towards defining fair, just and equitable reforms relating to the redistribution of land as a means of socioeconomic redress.

Land reform: Advisory panel gets a six-month deadline

President Ramaphosa announced the panel’s creation during his much anticipated economic stimulus package address last week, saying:

“The panel is expected to provide perspectives on land policy in the context of persisting land inequality, unsatisfactory land and agrarian reform and uneven urban land development.

The panel is mandated to review, research and suggest models for government to implement a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.”

While much speculation has surrounded the issue of land reform, especially with regards to expropriation without compensation, one of the members of the advisory panel, Professor Ruth Hall, revealed the group’s mandate during an interview with 702 Talk Radio.

Hall, who is a researcher and professor at the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty‚ Land and Agrarian Studies, outlined the differences between the panel’s obligation and the parliamentary process currently underway.

The latter, Hall says, is a process which is intrinsically linked to the amendment of section 25 of the South African Constitution, while the advisory panel’s aim is to develop sustainable strategies surrounding the practical implementation of land reform, beyond the scope of expropriation with or without compensation.

The ANC needs help implementing sustainable land reform

The African National Congress (ANC), although in support of Constitutional amendments, has been relatively mum on the mechanisms involved in attaining and sustaining agricultural reform and growth. Some high ranking political executives have revealed ill-conceived and impractical plans, which have raised more than a few eyebrows amongst agricultural stakeholders.

This is where the President’s advisory panel comes in to play.

Speaking to Cape Talk, Hall revealed that the panel had been given six months in which to submit its plans on land reform. This means that practical mechanisms for redistribution could be finalized as early as March 2019.

Hall also noted that the panel’s theoretical scope exceeded beyond the act of expropriation, saying:

“Our mandate is to look at how government should use its existing powers and what should be done to address the land reform challenge. While Parliament is debating whether or not government powers should be changed, our mandate is to look at how government should implement.

Ours is a policy-making position. In our terms of reference, we are explicitly asked to work out how and when expropriation without compensation should be implemented. I think we’re at a pivotal moment right now; we are at a change moment.”

Ramaphosa’s advisory panel on land reform

Government published the list of members which form part of the advisory panel. The members of the panel are:

  1. Dr Vuyokazi (Vuyo) Mahlati, a member of the National Planning Commission and president of the African Farmers Association of South Africa. (Chairperson)
  2. Professor Ruth Hall, a researcher and professor at the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies.
  3. Professor Mohammed Karaan, Professor in Agricultural Economics at Stellenbosch University.
  4. Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi; lawyer, public speaker and author.
  5. Bulelwa Mabasa, an attorney with expertise in land restitution and land reform.
  6. Dr Thandi Ngcobo, CEO and founder of the Dr J L Dube Institute of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
  7. Wandile Sihlobo: head of research at the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa and is an independent agricultural economic advisor to Afgrain Food Group.
  8. Daniel Kriek: president of AgriSA.
  9. Thato Moagi, a young emerging farmer and entrepreneur.
  10. Nick Serfontein, chairperson of the Sernick Group and 2016 Free State Farmer of the Year and Mentor of the Year.

Commenting on the make-up of the advisory panel, Ramaphosa said that although members came from different backgrounds, they are all equally committed to a just and equitable future for all South Africans.