Land tenure to take centre stage at summit

29 August 2014

Land tenure reform will take centre stage at a three-day national Land Tenure Summit to be hosted by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in Johannesburg next week.

Issues on the summit agenda include tenure insecurity in commercial farming areas, tenure challenges in communal areas, and how best to resolve South Africa’s land reform two decades after the dawn of democracy.

“This land tenure summit will provide critical debate and create a social dialogue on various aspects of transforming land ownership patterns,” Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Thursday.

“We want to get South Africa talking about the various policy proposals we have put before them. Let’s engage with these policy proposals and find lasting solutions. Let’s engage with everybody and come up with the best ways to resolve the issue of land tenure and land tenure administration.”

The summit, which starts next Thursday, will be attended by representatives from non-governmental organisations, organised agriculture, academia, farm workers, traditional leaders, the government, political parties, and leading international researchers on agrarian reform.

Delegates will present papers on a number of issues, including proposed legislation that will come before Parliament during this financial year.

The decade between 1997 and 2007 was characterised by significant shifts in ownership and land use in South Africa, including increasing acquisition of residential and agricultural properties by foreign nationals in certain regions.

“These trends have resulted in increased landlessness and precarious tenure for citizens, particularly residents of the former reserve areas and commercial farming areas,” Nkwinti said.

“These proposals will be presented to the national Land Tenure Summit in an attempt to address the growing land tenure insecurity problems which impact negatively on about 20-million people living in commercial farming areas, communal areas and in formal and informal townships.”

The proposed tenure reform policy seeks to reverse the wide range of tenure insecurities that were engendered throughout through land dispossession, human degradation and exploitation under apartheid.

Nkwinti said the summit was well poised to accelerate the process of rural development and land reform in the country, to generate meaningful dialogue on issues of land tenure, and to ensure that stakeholders were moving South Africa forward together.