Land re­form echoes of Zim

SA land set for re­dis­tri­bu­tion to end up in the hands of state bu­reau­crats and the po­lit­i­cally pow­er­ful – as in Zim­babwe, re­port says.

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - NEWS - Amanda Wat­son – aman­daw@ci­ti­zen.co.za

Re­port says many of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries will be fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cally con­nected peo­ple.

His­tory could be re­peat­ing it­self as South Africa’s land re­dis­tri­bu­tion heads down the same road as Zim­babwe – where it was the po­lit­i­cally con­nected elite who ben­e­fit­ted from land taken from white farm­ers.

A re­port re­leased by the In­sti­tute for Poverty, Land and Agrar­ian Stud­ies has shown land re­dis­tri­bu­tion in South Africa is in deep trou­ble, with a large pro­por­tion of ben­e­fi­cia­ries be­ing the fi­nan­cial and po­lit­i­cally con­nected elite.

This is what hap­pened in Zim­babwe in the wake of seizures of land from white farm­ers, which be­gan in 2000. Many of the farms taken ended up in the hands of loy­al­ists of Robert Mu­gabe’s Zanu-PF party ... and many were run into the ground.

The new South African re­port was au­thored by Farai Mtero, Nkany­iso Gumede and Katlego Ra­mantsima, whose in­ves­ti­ga­tion cov­ered 62 State Land Lease and Dis­posal Pol­icy (SLLDP) projects spread over seven sites in the East­ern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Na­tal, North West and the Western Cape.

“Some farms had ‘dropped out’ of pro­duc­tion (10%) while oth­ers were strug­gling and merely ‘hang­ing in’ (16%). There is a pro­por­tion of SLLDP farms that were ‘ac­cu­mu­lat­ing through re-in­vest­ment’ of farm­ing pro­ceeds (19%),” the re­port noted.

“Nearly half of the 62 farms (44%) were al­lo­cated to wealthy ben­e­fi­cia­ries di­ver­si­fy­ing into farm­ing by ‘step­ping in’ with their re­sources. In some cases, ac­cu­mu­la­tion was a re­sult of priv­i­leged ac­cess to re­cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion and pro­duc­tion sup­port (11%).”

The study also re­vealed women were dis­pro­por­tion­ally af­fected with 81% of the farms al­lo­cated to men with a large pro­por­tion of them be­ing “ur­ban-based busi­ness­men, traders and ru­ral trans­port oper­a­tors with sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments out­side of farm­ing”.

“Only 18% of the farms were al­lo­cated to farm work­ers,” the re­port stated. “In con­trast, 82% of the farms were al­lo­cated to other types of ben­e­fi­cia­ries es­pe­cially those with eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal in­flu­ence.”

The re­port re­vealed own­er­ship of some of the farms was re­tained by govern­ment and leased to ben­e­fi­cia­ries on a 30-year lease.

At least R428 mil­lion was spent on buy­ing 40 of the farms (those for which data on the pur­chase price was avail­able).

Of that amount, R196 mil­lion (or 46%) was spent on pur­chas­ing farms which did not have valid leases at the time of the re­search.

The re­port noted state bu­reau­crats and the po­lit­i­cally pow­er­ful “of­ten cap­ture re­sources in land re­form through the fol­low­ing prac­tices: the so­lic­it­ing and pay­ment of bribes, ‘dou­ble-dip­ping’, fronting, the im­po­si­tion of po­lit­i­cally-con­nected ben­e­fi­cia­ries and bail­ing out po­lit­i­cally-con­nected peo­ple”.

“State bu­reau­crats have, in some cases, with­held leases and threat­ened non-com­pli­ant ben­e­fi­cia­ries with evic­tion,” stated the re­port.

And while the above is only a sum­mary of the first eight pages of the 87-page re­port, par­lia­ment’s ad hoc com­mit­tee to ini­ti­ate and in­tro­duce leg­is­la­tion amend­ing sec­tion 25 of the con­sti­tu­tion is press­ing ahead, said com­mit­tee chair­per­son Dr Mathole Mot­shekga in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

The re­port noted it would be sub­sis­tence farm­ers who would be left by the way­side, a direct con­tra­dic­tion to the idea of land re­form.

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