The complex debate about land ownership in South Africa was thrust into the spotlight by the ANC’s decision in December 2017 to “pursue expropriation of land without compensation”.
It said it would do so “without destabilising the agricultural sector, without endangering food security and without undermining economic growth and job creation”.
Since December, parliament has voted to investigate the desirability and modalities of a constitutional change, and hundreds of thousands of South Africans have aired their views at public hearings and in written submissions. Many warned that fiddling with the Constitution’s so-called property clause – which government itself admits has not hindered land reform – would come at great cost while delivering no economic or justice dividend.
At a land indaba on 3 October City Press and Rapport will bring decision-makers together in Johannesburg to critically evaluate land reform since 1994 and examine solutions to the political and economic challenges that we as a nation face.
The land indaba is the culmination of a journalism partnership called Our Land / Ons Grond, in association with Landbouweekblad and Code For Africa, which has led to the publication of dozens of in-depth stories told by ordinary South Africans about their relationship to land. Along the way we heard fantastic success stories that could inspire solutions countrywide.
The land indaba will be co-hosted by City Press editor Mondli Makhanya and Rapport editor Waldimar Pelser. Speakers will include former president Kgalema Motlanthe, AgriSA's Dan Kriek, Advocate Tembeka Ngcukatoibi, Nick Serfontein of Sernick Group, Professor Peter Delius of Wits, Venda Chief Livuhwani Matsila, Dr Aninka Claassens of UCT, and the agricultural economist Wandile Sihlobo of Agbiz. We will conclude with a debate between political parties and a networking session.
“In the history of democratic South Africa there are few issues that have been as heated and got citizens as fired up as the land debate. This is no surprise. Land dispossession was central to the disempowerment of the majority and the evolution of the apartheid ideology. It was inevitable then that the reversal of this grave injustice would become one of the issues around which the liberation struggle was waged and was one of the main issues which the post-apartheid government focused on when putting in place policies of redress and restitution.
“Unfortunately the land the debate has tended to be quite divisive and polarizing. Through Our Land/Ons Land project City Press and Rapport are seeking to enrich this most important debate through strong research, reportage and commentary. This summit forms part of this initiative. Through this we hope to contribute to creating a climate in which honest and constructive conversation can be had on an issue so important to South Africa’s food security, development and the war on poverty and inequality.”
“Rational, evidence-based policy making on land is the only way to build the economy and achieve just outcomes. We hope that bringing farmers, politicians, business and academic experts into one room can help to stimulate the pursuit of good solutions.”
Ngcukatoibi, author of The Land is Ours, will speak about the history of land deprivation while Patrick Sekwatlakwatla and Nick Serfontein of Sernick will present success stories that can be built on. UCT’s Claassens will discuss unequal citizenship and the denial of black property rights in former homeland areas, while Chief Matsila will showcase how community land can be used for the benefit of all. Professor Sarah Charlton will tackle the issue of urban land needs and Kriek will focus on commercial agriculture.
Representatives of our key political parties will then debate The Politics of Land. Sihlobo will set the stage for the debate with his presentation on the future of food production. The Politics of Land debate will be live streamed on the Facebook pages of City Press and Rapport.
Land Indaba: The Way Forward*
Wednesday October 3, 9am to 5pm
Johannesburg Country Club, Auckland Park
*The full programme will be available on Tuesday September 25 on City Press and Rapport social media and online platforms.
City Press and Rapport subscribers: R350
Members of the public, NGOs/NPOs/Educational organisations: R550