Final Report of the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture

Introduction

The summary is based on the recommendations contained in the final report of the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.

The final report of the Panel was released on Sunday 28 July 2019, by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Ms Thoko Didiza, accompanied by members of the Panel.

In September 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the Panel to support the work of the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform and to advise the IMC on a broad range of policy matters associated with land reform, including restitution, redistribution, tenure security and agricultural support.

Overview
The Panel – individually and collectively, believe that land reform can contribute to inclusive growth and sustainable development and enable social cohesion, deliver social justice and restore dignity to the majority of South Africans.

The Panel’s proposals contain wide-ranging recommendations with a view to government implementing fair and equitable land redistribution.

The Panel over the duration of finalising the report met and discussed with relevant ministers and experts on several platforms.

The Panel’s final report has been noted by Cabinet.

Findings
In its findings, the Panel in the report states:

1. Critical issues of land hunger, insecurity of tenure with the majority land rights that are not legally recognised in both rural and urban areas, are threatening stability, inclusive growth and development.

2. With 80% of urban dwellers residing on only 2% of the country’s land, a radical shift was required in land reform trajectory. This is exacerbated by government’s reluctance, we believe, to address communal tenure and underdevelopment of communal areas perpetuating the marginalisation of women, the rural poor and the communal farmers, in general.

3. Among the Panel’s immediate recommendations and actions, is the allocation of land, building on and refocusing private partnerships and strengthening of food systems and rural urban linkages.

4. There is a need for a consolidated national land reform policy framework with a new whitepaper that will address current gaps to include urban land, address spatial transformation and climate change. The framework must also add land administration as the fourth pillar, retaining and strengthening land restitution, redistribution and tenure, as indicated in the 1997 land national land policy.

5. There is a need to expedite and refocus of land reform to address inequality and historical injustices.

6. South Africa has made world headlines as the most unequal country. The report attributes the persisting inequalities to the manner in which land is owned, managed and transacted.

7. It is urging President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Cabinet to expedite land reform by using all its powers to resolving all outstanding land restitution claims, release lease acquired private land and much more effectively identify privately owned land needed for redistribution.

8. With regards to land redistribution without compensation:-
 
a. The majority of Panel members endorsed the proposed policy shift towards using provisions of the Constitution, with the majority of the panel feeling it is an inescapable fact that Section 25 of the Constitution is “compensation centric”. It draws from global examples where it is inextricably linked to some form of compensation.

b. The Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture has proposed for the amendment of the Constitution that clarifies that expropriation without compensation may be necessary in limited circumstances.

c. The Panel has therefore offered a proposal for a constitutional amendment that clarifies that expropriation without compensation may be necessary in limited circumstances, and it proceeds to indicate those circumstances.

d. The Panel said some members felt compensation may be zero in justifiable circumstances.

e. Another recommendation was for the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to finalise the database of applications under the land reform labour tenants of 1996 and prepare a proper time bound and publicly available plan for implementation.

f. The Panel calls on Parliament to monitor implementation of this plan and to amend regulation to the act addressing labour tenants and restitution claims. Those whose claims have been lost must have an opportunity to resubmit and the Department must identify claims where expropriation may be used to break the deadlock.

g. As a bold approach to land reform, the Panel proposed and recording the varying tenure rights that exist in the country, saying 60% of land rights in South Africa were not recorded or recognised.

h. The Panel in the report also calls for the reform of the Land Claims Court, the establishment of Land Reform Fund that will bring together state and private finance to support land reform – both the acquisition of land and support for beneficiaries thereafter.

i. The Panel also recommended the development of a Donations Policy, which encourages landowners to donate properties, or part of their properties, by offering exemptions from donations tax, and carrying the conveyancing costs of land transfer.

j. Minister Didiza, on behalf of the Cabinet, appreciated and thanked the Advisory Panel for the work done and the speed with which they have completed the task.

k. Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza said:

“The panel was to advise government on circumstances in which the policy on expropriation without compensation will be implemented, what procedures to follow and institutions to enforce as well as the rights of any affected persons, including the rights to judicial review. In a sense this process of the panel was to do a review and also be forward looking in anticipation of the Constitutional Amendments.”

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