COMMENT

Undoing the legacy of 1913 Land Act

Mmusi Maimane says 20 000 title deeds delivered by DA-led govts in 2 years

1913 Land Act: 20 000 title deeds delivered by DA-led governments in 2 years

19 June 2018

On this day in 1913 the Native Land Act was passed into law. It was an evil piece of legislation that prevented black South Africans from owning or buying land outside of ‘native reserves’, which were overcrowded, unsuited for farming, and remote. The Act was the precursor for a raft of legislation that continued this dispossession, including the ‘homelands’ policy and the Group Areas Act. The painful social and economic legacy of the Native Land Act remains with South Africa still. Land ownership is still severely skewed, black families are still largely asset poor and remain unable to build savings and wealth. This is the legacy that the DA seeks to undo every single day.

This legacy can and must be righted. While other parties talk about it, the DA in government is delivering real, meaningful urban property ownership that is undoing the legacy of the 1913 Land Act. Norah Motshelane, Sidodo Mazondo and Aubrey Mketsu’s family stories are examples of how this can begin to be done. I visited them at the Motshelane’s home in Lufhereng, Soweto today, which was an uplifting reminder of what real freedom looks like when you own the land that you live on.

A title deed gives one ownership and economic empowerment. It puts people locked out of economic opportunity on the first rung of the asset accumulation ladder. It allows people to leverage this asset, to generate income, and to leave a real asset for their children after they pass away. It was this power of title that allowed my parents to send me to school and get an education.

DA-led coalition governments in metro councils have delivered nearly 20 000 title deeds between August 2016 to March 2018, 70% of which have been delivered in Johannesburg and Tshwane.

But our efforts to undo the legacy of the 1913 Land Act do not end here. Successful share equity schemes like that of the Adama-Bosman Trust in the Western Cape are examples of why the province continues to see a 62% land reform success rate against a 90% land reform failure rate under the ANC in the rest of the country.

As we observe the 105th anniversary of this dark day in South Africa’s history, we must reject the vicious rhetoric of those who wish to divide us further along racial and ethnic lines. We must also reject the rhetoric that the only way to fix this is to unstitch the Constitution and pit South Africans against each other. Our intention should be to make sure that all South Africans, no matter the background, can own land in their own right. It is not about one race taking land from another, but about mainly poor, mainly black South Africans owning the homes they live in.

The ANC’s colossal failure to undo the legacy of the 1913 Land Act is not the fault of the Constitution. It is fault of the corruption, looting, and chronic underfunding in land reform programmes over the past 24 years. The ANC’s position on land reform is now so unclear, that no one knows what the government now intends to do. This is having further negative consequences for our economy, which is only further exacerbating the problem as more people lose work.

While the ANC and EFF divide the country and scapegoat the Constitution for a land reform problem that they have done nothing to fix, the DA will continue to provide families like the Motshelane’s, Mazondo’s and Mketsu’s with the opportunity to own, and if they so choose, work the land that they live on. And we will continue to fight for the more than 1 500 Gwatyu farmers in the Eastern Cape to own and work the land that they have lived on for generations but which they have been denied ownership of by the ANC government.

Where we govern, we will continue to deliver tens of thousands of title deeds to make people real home owners, not tenants of the state. The access that this ownership provides to freedom and opportunity for South Africans is what will always serve as the DA difference. A difference that thousands of people who have received title deeds under DA-led governments will not hesitate to attest to.

Issued by Mmusi MaimaneLeader of the Democratic Alliance, 19 June 2018