OXFAM SOUTH AFRICA CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO URGENTLY ADDRESS THE LAND ISSUE
Oxfam South Africa welcomes the tabling of the motion to consider the redistribution of the land which will be debated in the National Assembly tomorrow, Tuesday 27th February 2018. We see this as an opportune moment for government to correctly address the issue of land once and for all.
As OxfamSA, our support is made against the backdrop of our “Even it Up” global campaign that aims to end extreme inequality that threatens to undo much of the progress made over the past 20 years in tackling poverty as a direct consequence of the wrong political and economic choices, including on the land issue.
The recent national conference by the ruling ANC resolved that they will initiate amendments to the Section 25 of the Constitution in order to expropriate land without compensation. The land question in South Africa is by far the most emotive issue that cannot be postponed any further. It should have happened long time ago, if government was serious about dealing with glaring structural inequalities and poverty in the country.
We call on the ANC government to support the motion and move quick to address the issue of land dispossession. To address inherited injustices of the past, possible economic and political instability, OxfamSA calls upon the government of South Africa, through the will of its People, to introduce legislative measures for a Comprehensive Land Reform and Rural Transformation Programme
We say this because currently:
Around 35% of South Africa’s population live in rural areas. They are the most vulnerable and excluded from the formal economy and have limited access to agriculture and mineral resources, in particular to land. Historically, Land and all that accrues from it including natural and mineral resources, marine and livestock wealth was disposed from majority black Africans. 90% , predominantly black, of the total population was confined to 13% of the total land surface and whereas the 10% of the white population was allocated 87% of the land surface.
To this effect, a significant amount of land remains in the ownership of large scale commercial farmers and private corporations. The government land reform programme has not been able to address fundamentally the legacy of systematic dispossession of land in SA, land inequalities further compounded by climate change negatively affecting small holder farmers.
Inequality in Urban South Africa is driven by the legacy of South Africa's racist spatial legacy, where black people were legally and structurally excluded from residing in the cities. This means that black people live on the outskirts of cities, in urban townships (slums) with poorer housing and basic services. Because of living so far, poor South Africans spend nearly 20% of their income on transport (the vast majority being provided by the monopoly of informal minibus taxis)- where food and transport put together take up around 40% of already low incomes.
Available academic and research work as well as official government reports show that the existing land reform programme does not deliver land in sufficient quantity ( through the land reform, redistribution and restitution Acts); people on land or acquiring land receive very little extension services, access to market and credit support, and there are few successes where there has been a substantial and positive change to people’s livelihoods. Between April 1994 and April 2010, the land reform program had redistributed fewer than 7% of agricultural land, while the vast majority of agricultural land remains in the hands of fewer than 40,000 white farmers.
South Africa has the potential to become a truly just, democratic and equitable society. One where all who live in it benefit from its wealth, can claim and enjoy rights and protections enshrined in the Constitution, and preserve the integrity of the natural environment for sustainable development.
It is for this reason that OxfamSA call for immediate change in policy to:
address inherited injustices of the past, possible economic and political instability, OZA calls upon the government of South Africa, through the will of its People, for the introduction legislative measures for a Comprehensive Land Reform and Rural Transformation Programme.
This must be presented in a framework that carries a transformative agenda focused on ending poverty, builds people’s livelihood options, addresses urban poverty and housing, ensures access to and over over land by women, responds to congestion in communal lands and de racializes unsustainable levels asset inequality.
The Land reform and rural transformation programme must have clear and measurable targets, proposes resettlement and redistribution models, with decision making structures that are inclusive, fosters partnerships and brings policy coherence and legislative certainty.
It must be supplemented with an infrastructure and social services support plan, research and extension services taking into consideration industrialization and environmental sustainability needs.
Ensure a land reform programme that enhances food security, considers needs of farm workers, their rights to fair labor practice, ensures access to essentials services such as health care, water and education for children.
Land reform should be about rebalancing of power, restoration of peoples dignity, economic growth and a political imperative necessary for stability. Liberation struggles were not only waged for majority rule but to address issue of land dispossession.
NOTE to Editors
Through systematic interventions, OxfamSA’s Rural Transformation Programme seeks to advance a holistic approach to rural transformation taking into consideration the intersection of land governance, movement building, local economies, enhancement of human agency and democratic space required to achieve transformative progress.
The two documentary case studies (see here and here) highlights the agency of rural workers and their forms of resistance, brings evidence to the effects slow pace of land reform and the effects of current (and absence of) labor laws and policies on rural workers.
Statement issued by Oxfam South Africa, 26 February 2018