- Professor Ruth Hall of the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies is a leading expert on land reform in South Africa
- She claims the ANC-led government has had an extremely poor record on land reform over the last two decades
- Hall said changing the Constitution would not make any difference to fixing the land matter because the current shambles was caused by the government’s own lack of political will to enact land reform
Professor Ruth Hall of the University of the Western Cape’s (UWC) Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas) is a leading expert on land reform in South Africa. Hall said the ANC-led government was to blame for the current ‘land reform shambles’ which faces the country.
Hall said the government had an extremely poor record on implementing land reform over the last two decades and has actually overseen a slowing down of land being returned to former owners.
Hall dismissed the ANC’s plans to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation and said any changes to the law would be largely ineffective.
Briefly.co.za gathered that Hall said this was because the problem with land reform has never been with the Constitution but rather with the government’s lack of political will coupled with fraud, corruption and financial concerns.
Timeslive.co.za reported that Hall said the ANC government had been engaged in a systematic and political dismantling of land reform over the last decade. She said land reform had slowed down so much that it had actually become an almost anti-policy.
On Thursday, Hall said her research had shown that land reform had shrunk from around half a million hectares per annum in 2007/2008 to less than a tenth of that number in 2015/16.
Hall said the Constitution already makes provision for land expropriation without compensation if it were in the national interest and added that the document in its current form had more than enough scope for the government to implement successful land reform if it chose to.
She said land remained a symbol of inequality which had not been redressed despite the country having been politically liberated nearly a quarter of a century ago. Hall said the sad truth was that the majority of land in South Africa was still in the hands of white people as it had been before 1994.
News24.com reported that the ANC government had targeted redistributing 30% of land by 1999 but had failed to reach even 10% by 2018.
Hall told EWN.co.za that the reality of the current land mess was that South Africa was moving backwards. She said big companies and rich individuals were benefiting from receiving huge swaths of land while ordinary people were still being disposed.
She said this trend was actually contributing to what amounted to an anti-agrarian policy being implemented in the country. Hall blamed the government for budgeting less than 1% of the national budget to land reform.
Hall said the current level had actually dropped to a shockingly low 0.4% of the national budget. This means the government has never been committed to the cause because contrary to popular belief that money is not spent on buying land but on paying salaries and operating costs of the process to acquire land.
Finally, Hall pointed out that Parliament itself had revealed in 2017 that the Constitution could not be blamed for the slow pace of land reform because section 25 has never been challenged in court.
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