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Presidential panel submits long-delayed report on South African land reform

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A panel of experts appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to advise South Africa’s government, on how to resolve the issue of land reform, restitution and redistribution handed in its final report on Tuesday, the presidency said.

Land rights are among the most pressing issues in South Africa over two decades after the end of apartheid, when millions among the black majority were dispossessed of their land by a white minority.

In 2018, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to seize land without compensation.

The plans were approved by parliament in December and the draft land reform bill is set to be debated again in October.

The report by the advisory panel would be key to how the final law would look.

Policy aspects investigated by the panel included the level of financial support given to new farmers, compensation for current land owners on targeted land and what forms of ownership or leasehold regimes will be pursed.

The presidency said the report, which had been due in April, however, was delayed by disagreements between panel members and over the scope of their mandate, would be put to the cabinet before being released publicly.

If the government decided to push ahead with wider powers to seize land without payment, it could see local and international investors lose out on land earmarked or already used for mining, farming and other commercial activities.

The lead up to May’s election saw an increase in protests and political jostling over access to both agricultural and residential land as concern over the issue mounts.

The reforms, to become law, would need passed by both houses of parliament and then signed by Ramaphosa.

Edited by Abiodun OluleyeIfeyinwa Omowole

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