ANC’s land reform policies benefit traditional elites, not rural communities

Issued by Thandeka Mbabama MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform
19 May 2017 in Speeches


Honourable Members,


The Constitution provides, in Section 25 (6), that a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices is entitled to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.

Section 25 (9) provides that Parliament must enact the legislation.

Chapter 6 of the National Development Plan which advocates for an Integrated and Inclusive Rural Economy, states:

“[T]here will be integrated rural areas, where residents will be economically active, have food security, access to basic services, health care and quality education. Achieving this vision, will require leadership on land reform and communal tenure security … among other things … to implement these interventions”.

A critical and relevant vision indeed and one that the DA agrees with wholeheartedly.

What the commissioners who wrote it did not, perhaps, realise was that there was, and still is, NO leadership or political will in the ANC to implement this plan.

Six years down the line, the plan is held up by delays in legislation, insufficient budgets, beaurocratic bungling, corruption and ineffective government officials.

In June 2016, King Goodwill Zwelithini announced plans for those residing on Ingonyama Trust land to be awarded title deeds. The Chairperson of the Ingonyama Trust Board later explained that the task would take many years to conclude and would require funds from national government to implement.

Strangely enough, there is no provision in their budget to kick-start this initiative. The people are still waiting!

The ANC’s policies on communal land have, like their economic policies, benefitted a narrow political elite, at the expense of rural South Africans.

In her July 2014 article titled “Communal land, Property rights and Traditional leaders” Annika Classens states that the present ANC government has rejected the post 1994 rights-based approach to land reform in favour of outsourcing power and control over more than 17 million South Africans to Traditional Leaders in a context where power relations are notoriously unequal.

These unequal power relations have resulted in rural residents being taken advantage of and deals made on their land by corrupt and unscrupulous traditional leaders who see opportunities for self-enrichment.

Often, unelected and illegitimate traditional elites have acted unilaterally, authorising mining activities on communal land, without consulting their communities.

So why does the ANC insist on denying rural communities their land rights?

A decisive and efficient DA government will fast track communal tenure legislation and start off by securing tenure rights to the dispossessed rural dwellers in the former TBVC territories.

In a DA-led national government, rural residents will be economically active as the asset they live on will legally belong to them and not the government.

We will be forever grateful to the many individuals who made untold sacrifices to free our beloved country from the shackles of apartheid.

We will never forget them. It is now time to hand over the baton to a new order, to a swifter, more inclusive and forward-looking leaders who can restart progress in South Africa again.

The DA is the only party that truly believes the rural poor must own their land in line with our values of Freedom, Fairness and Opportunity for all!