LAND REFORM AT THE CROSSROADS

Land Reform

The Land Question

Zimbabwe is definitely not an example of where everything is going perfectly well, but they are getting very good mileage out of their national consensus on land reform and rural development. As things stands, there is a collective wisdom that land reform is a must and should be addressed with speed to avoid further chaos and mayhem that has beset the once beautiful country.

While Zimbabwe is in unison about the change that is expected, South Africa seems to be way in the political doldrums not knowing what is going to work or what alternatives are there for a successful land reform. It is a fact that at the practical level about 5% of white owned land has been transferred since the first democratic elections of 1994, which means that about 80% of land is still owned by whites. At this rate the already modest redistribution target of 30% has absolutely zero chance of being achieved by the target date of 2014.

Perhaps the greatest failure of the land reform is found in the thousands of claims never registered because the potential claimants were not aware of their rights and of the cut off point for registration of their claims. The hundreds of thousands of South Africans were denied their rights to claim land merely because of some administrative edict and proclamation.

The call by the government to think outside the box and provide creative solutions remains words without substance. Some among government officials loosely make statements to the effect that the World Bank model of willing seller – willing buyer has failed, yet no paradigm shift in terms of the policy has ever been mentioned. For obvious reasons they cannot challenge the status quo for fear that the constitution guarantees the protection of private property by sanctifying willing-seller-willing-buyer approach to the redistribution of land.

It must be stated, for the record, that failure to address land form remains a hotbed for insurrection. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the chronic lack of clear political will and ever present organizational ineptitude and dysfunctional leadership in our country. Our people cannot wait permanently for the return of their land. The current land reform programme despite its good intentions is beset with both policy and bureaucratic hassles. Even a cursory look at the laws and legislation clearly indicate that it was doomed to fail long before it took off.

Rural revolution founded on the right of people to own, directly and collectively, the land they till is required. It is a complete negation of the unrehabilitated colonial order which has not provided anything except failures. The current order presents an easy way out in going about land reform – it preserves the status quo.

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