‘SA needs ethical land reform’

To date, discussions about land reform have concentrated on political, economic and legal aspects. While these are essential, they will not be enough.

‘SA needs ethical land reform’
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This was the opinion of Emeritus Professor Martin Prozesky of Compass Ethics in Hilton, KwaZulu-Natal, speaking at the Moral Regeneration Movement’s recent land summit in Johannesburg.

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These aspects should be based on shared ethical values that had stood the test of time in all South Africa’s cultures, religious and secular, and especially the time-honoured values of Africa’s rich ethical heritage, he said.

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“[Land reform] calls for great care and responsibility by all concerned. It needs calm and caring minds, not narrow political agendas,” he said.

While restorative justice was a vital part of achieving a favourable outcome for land reform, it was not sufficient.

“Other ethical values must also play their part to ensure that we avoid the dreadful mistake of adopting a land policy that is ethically flawed.”

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He also emphasised the need for the beneficiaries of previous land policies to offer their expertise and resources to those who lack them, but stressed that restorative justice, not punitive justice was needed in this process.

“This will ensure that we replace inhumanity with the humaneness, not with yet more inhumanity.”

Another important value that should shape a new land dispensation which Prozesky highlighted was responsibility.

Politicians in particular had to display wisdom not opportunism, and should thus not be tempted by the short-term gains of sloganeering and mere populism.

“My suggestion for a way forward is therefore that inclusive, practical ethics must be the basis of how we settle the land question, leading to the greatest possible well-being for everybody, in ways that everybody can see is fair, honest and caring,” he concluded.