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By Enkosi Selane

Digital Journalist

Bring back the land: Government to spend nearly R15bn on land redistribution and restitution

Responding to parliamentary questions by the EFF’s Mzwanele Manyi, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza revealed how much will be spent on land issues after May’s national elections.

At least R14.9 billion has been earmarked by the government for land redistribution and restitution under the next administration.

Both the African National Congress (ANC) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have advocated land redistribution and land restitution policies, with differences in their approaches and emphasis.

Although these policies have been accepted by many as needed, there have been concerns over how they would be implemented and their effect on private land.

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Responding to parliamentary questions by the EFF’s Mzwanele Manyi, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza revealed how much will be spent on land issues after May’s national elections.

“The Department’s land acquisition projections for the 7th administration to spend is reflected in the Mid-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for the next three years as R1.605 billion for redistribution and R13.354 billion for the next five years for restitution”.

R21bn spent already

Didiza said the state had already spent nearly R21.5 billion on land restitution and redistribution.

This comprised R3.038 billion on land redistribution and R18.480 billion on land restitution from 1 February 2018 to 15 March 2024.

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Difference between land redistribution and restitution

In simpler form, land redistribution can be defined as the government’s effort to amend the distribution of land ownership in South Africa.

According to a parliament report the distribution of land has been moving at a turtle’s pace with unequal nuances over the past 22 years, with fluctuations in budgets and the land hectares being acquired and redistributed.

From 1 February 2018 to-date “330 046 hectares were acquired as part of land redistributed”, said Didiza.

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North West was the province with the most land redistribution hectares acquired at 106 574 hectares. Gauteng had the least redistribution of acquired hectares, sitting at 2 612 hectares.

Moreover, the minister said 462 745 hectares were acquired as part of land restitution.

On the other hand, land restitution is the process of giving back land to those dispossessed and forcibly removed from their homes during apartheid.

Northern Cape had the most restitution hectares acquired, with 152 476 hectares. While, Gauteng had the least with only 41 hectares retrieved.

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Land reform

While both the ANC and EFF advocate land redistribution and restitution, the ANC tends to favor a more gradual and negotiated approach, while the EFF advocates more radical measures such as expropriation without compensation to address historical injustices more swiftly.

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The ANC’s approach to land reform has often been criticised for being slow and insufficient in addressing the historical injustices of apartheid.

Its policies have included measures such as willing-buyer willing-seller programs, land redistribution through government intervention, and land restitution for those who were dispossessed during apartheid.

As opposed to the ruling party, the EFF’s stance on land reform is more confrontational and less willing to compromise with existing property owners. Their land reform policies have gained significant attention and support from some segments of the population.

ANC vs EFF land redistribution

Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement in 2018 announcing ANC’s support of the amendment to Section 25 of the Constitution to make land expropriation without compensation legal, the EFF pledged to be at the forefront of land expropriation without compensation and land redistribution.

“The people of South Africa should rest assured that with the EFF at the forefront, all South Africa’s land will be returned to its rightful owners, and the settlers and their descendants will be allocated proportional to population size in South Africa,” said the EFF.

However, the ANC maintained that when land is controlled by the government legislation on redistribution would be necessary, instead of having a ‘free for all’ state.

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ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Ronald Lamola, who then handled matters of land reform, said it was a fallacy that land would be freely available in the country.

“It is not true that you will wake up tomorrow and all land which will be in the hands of the state will be available for free to everyone, it does not mean all South Africans will wake up and have land. There will still be a need for legislation as to how we are going to distribute land. It does not mean that everyone will walk into free land, it is not free,” said Lamola.