Deputy Justice and Constitutional Development Minister John Jeffery says poverty will only be alleviated in South Africa when land is successfully redistributed.
During the negotiated transition to democracy, many South Africans expected liberation to facilitate the return of land which they had dispossessed during apartheid.
However, only a few restitution claims have been resolved so far.
Speaking during the build-up to the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the South African Constitution, Jeffery said land productivity was linked to the country’s social issues.
In December 1996, the country’s first democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela signed the Constitution into law.
“The process that is being followed is one consistent with the Constitution. I would think it is more linked to inequalities in wealth and obviously, land being an expression of wealth and land being something that African people in South Africa had before the Dutch and the British arrived. It is incredibly unhealthy to have a country where land ownership happens to be so racially skewed.”
Cosatu on land issue
In March, Labour federation, Cosatu, told Parliament’s committee to amend Section 25 of the Constitution that fails to address land reform, adding it is a ticking time bomb that the nation cannot afford.
Cosatu made a submission during virtual public hearings on the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to expropriate land without compensation.
It criticised what it calls ‘populist’ opposition to the Bill.
Cosatu Parliamentary Liaison Officer Matthews Parks says, “We think that the reaction to the opposition to the Bill is not helpful. It’s hysterical. It’s often devoid of facts, to be honest, it’s cheap populism. We think in essence it seeks to preserve the legacies of colonialism and apartheid. It does not provide for a rational debate, where we actually need calm and rational debate, where you actually need calm and rational engagements; not hysteria. And Chair, the alternative to not dealing with land reform is a ticking time bomb, which we cannot afford as a nation. And in fact, that will be unconstitutional, not to deal with land issues.”
Source: SABC additional reporting by Mercedes Besent