A message of hope for land reform

This year’s State of the Nation Address was very solid and focused. I’ve always believed that we need to give credit where it is due and I would like to applaud the SA president for his balanced speech.

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He made it very clear that economic development is key for the success of the country’s programmes.  I agree that the process of land reform is slow and tedious and the willing-buyer, willing-seller option has not been the best way to address this issue. In 2012 we can’t talk about the 8% of the 30% target for land redistribution by 2014.

We need a more vigorous approach to the land reform process in SA. Let us not dilly-dally on something that is clear, we need to deal with land reform once and for all and the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle is not the right approach.

The nation must be called to dialogue, so those who are reactionary should not stop others from discussing this. All alternatives must be put on the table. Some will talk about share schemes and others will talk about nationalisation (as a remedy), some about pure privatisation, turning everything into commercial agriculture.

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There have been calls for a review of the Constitution to facilitate land reform. This needs to be entertained. I agree that this might not be SA or ANC policy but it does not mean we should not debate these issues. We are living in a democratic state where debate should be encouraged.

Section 25 of the Constitution protects citizens against the expropriation of private land, but also provides guidelines on when the state may alienate land and how it must compensate for it.

SA urgently needs successful and sustainable land reform. To achieve this we should consider the various approaches. Everything we do should be consistent with the letter and spirit of our carefully balanced and negotiated Constitution. We need a comprehensive land reform process and land reform audit.

South Africans are engulfed in a state of gloom. They need access to land and the land reform process is the vehicle to take us there. Rural communities want to play a part in the economic field of SA, but they can’t do that without access to land.

Restoring South Africans’ faith in the future of the country should not be difficult. People respond rapidly to the direction of change. Vigorous and frequent defence of the country’s Constitution and democratic institutions by senior politicians, particularly of the ruling party, would quickly reverse the current discomfort of most South Africans.

If SA truly wants to have growth rates equivalent to the best in the world, there is only one direction it can go, that is, towards greater economic freedom. This provides not only an improved economic growth rate, but higher income for the poor, a higher life expectancy, a lower rate of infant mortality, improved water supply, less corruption, a better environment and greater civil liberty.