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Land reform still holds key to envisaged better future

Freedom more than the right to vote and repealing of pass laws

File photo.
File photo.
Image: 123RF/KOSTIC DUSAN

The commemoration of 28 years of freedom in our country gives one an opportunity to reflect and draw perspective of what the future would have looked like, especially for the previously disadvantaged masses.

This year marks the 55th national congress of the ANC, which will also be a precursor to the national elections in 2024. While it is important to acknowledge our sovereignty by exercising our own domestic obligations, thought must be given to the fact our sovereignty is also fragile, in terms of how our freedom might be decayed by corruption and not prioritising the process of renewal and social compact. These will go a long way in dealing with the undesirable state we are now dealing with. 

A thorough national introspection is needed among all South Africans to reflect on the past, present and map a collective way that will be ideal for the country's future survival because as the cliché says, our past will shape our future. 

It is unfortunate to find ourselves as a nation in this present because the seed was sowed in the past which promised to break the shackles of apartheid and colonialism for us to live in a prosperous nonracial and nonsexist society where everyone lives in harmony, united in our diversity, living in agreement that the wealth of the country is shared among the citizens.

This documented all the prospects for the kind of SA people wished to live in. All the desirable futures were documented in the Freedom Charter and the constitution of SA, but quoting these documents today is like trying to touch a mirage shining on the horizon.

Our people have been sold a dummy; the future we expected as a nation has not yet been realised. Freedom is more than the right to vote and the repealing of pass laws. Today the right to vote is like an empty shell. In 1994 many people were enthusiastic about voting and if we look at the public mood today the fallacy of voting, with its democratic ideals and expected trappings, has not solved the problems of equality and prosperity envisaged.

For people to be free, they need land. The government must fast-track land redistribution not only by expropriating land but by also prioritising post-settlement support because it will complete land reform and speed up wealth creation. 

More impetus and efficiency is needed to speed up land reform, especially land tenure reform to preserve the rights of farm dwellers and labour tenants. The constitution says that a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practice is entitled, to the extent provided by an act of parliament, either to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.

The Extension of Security of Tenure Amendment Act 2 of 2018 has helped to resolve tenure rights disputes between farmers and farm dwellers.

The amendment closed loopholes in the initial Extension of Security of Tenure Act, which had a number of confines that made it easier for farm dwellers to be evicted. The description of the occupier of land was too broadly defined and susceptible to wrong interpretations. The act categorises some farm dwellers as the main or primary occupiers while others, such as wives and children are secondary occupiers.

By categorising them as such opens them up to some degree of vulnerability, which leads to unwarranted evictions. A pat on the back goes to the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development for amending the act because it has strengthened the initial act to put an end to arbitrary evictions happening on farms.

• Novukela is a graduate from the University of Fort Hare and Rhodes University in communications and journalism, respectively. She is an intern in communications at the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. She writes in her personal capacity.

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