The complex debate on land ownership in South Africa was thrust into the spotlight by the ANC’s decision in December 2017 to “pursue expropriation of land without compensation”.
It said it would do so “without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security and without undermining economic growth and job creation”.
Since December, Parliament has voted to investigate the desirability and modalities of a constitutional change, and hundreds of thousands of South Africans have aired their views at public hearings and in written submissions.
Many have warned that fiddling with the Constitution’s so-called property clause – which government itself admits has not hindered land reform – will come at great cost, while delivering no economic or justice dividend.
In response to this, since June, City Press has been running a journalism partnership called Our Land/Ons Grond, in association with Rapport, Landbouweekblad and Code For Africa, which has led to the publication of dozens of in-depth stories told by ordinary South Africans about their relationship to land.
Along the way we heard fantastic success stories that could inspire solutions countrywide.
City Press and Rapport have organised a land indaba, taking place in Johannesburg on October 3, where decision makers will critically evaluate land reform since 1994 and examine solutions to the political and economic challenges that we, as a nation, face.
The indaba will be co-hosted by City Press editor Mondli Makhanya and Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser. Speakers include former president Kgalema Motlanthe, AgriSA’s Dan Kriek, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, Nick Serfontein of Sernick Group, Professor Peter Delius of Wits University, Venda Chief Livhuwani Matsila, Dr Aninka Claassens of the University of Cape Town (UCT), and agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo from the Agricultural Business Chamber.
It will conclude with a debate between political parties and a networking session.
Makhanya says: “In the history of democratic South Africa there are few issues that have been as heated and got citizens as fired up as the land debate. This is no surprise. Land dispossession was central to the disempowerment of the majority and the evolution of the apartheid ideology. It was inevitable, then, that the reversal of this grave injustice would become one of the issues about which the liberation struggle was waged – and was one of the main issues which the post-apartheid government focused on when putting in place policies of redress and restitution.
“Unfortunately, the land debate has tended to be divisive and polarising. Through the Our Land/Ons Grond project, City Press and Rapport are seeking to enrich this important debate through strong research, reportage and commentary. This summit forms part of the initiative. Through it, we hope to contribute to creating a climate in which an honest and constructive conversation can be had on an issue crucial to South Africa’s food security and development as well as to the war on poverty and inequality.”
Pelser says: “Rational and evidence-based policy-making on land is the only way to build the economy and achieve just outcomes. We hope that bringing farmers, politicians, business and academic experts into one room can help to stimulate the pursuit of good solutions.”
Ngcukaitobi, author of The Land is Ours, will speak about the history of land deprivation, while Patrick Sekwatlakwatla and Serfontein of Sernick will present success stories that can be built on.
UCT’s Claassens will discuss unequal citizenship and the denial of black property rights in former homeland areas, while Chief Matsila will showcase how community land can be used for the benefit of all.
Professor Sarah Charlton of Wits University will tackle the issue of urban land needs and Kriek will focus on commercial agriculture.
Representatives of the key political parties will then debate the topic, The Politics of Land.
Sihlobo will set the stage for the debate with his presentation on the future of food production.
The Politics of Land debate will be live-streamed on the Facebook pages of City Press and Rapport.
City Press has a limited number of tickets to give to loyal readers. If you would like to attend, SMS your name and contact details to 34581, and include the key word LAND. We will call you back.
To purchase a ticket please email: email@example.com, call Tanya on 011 713 9276 or send an SMS with the keyword LAND, including your contact details, to 34581.