Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni
Premium Journalist
2 minute read
8 Dec 2016
5:41 am

NGO warns delayed land reform will ‘damage’ SA

Simnikiwe Hlatshaneni

The Vumelana Advisory Fund said 90% of land transferred to black owners and communities was not economically active.

Farming. Picture: AFP

An NGO that helps communities in the land reform programme to develop their land is warning that slow progress could plunge South Africa into deeper inequality, corruption and conflict by 2030.

Government has stated that it is satisfied with the progress in the  programme.

The Vumelana Advisory Fund (VAF) has compiled a scenario report based on their research into political and economic trends over the past year. The organisation predicted high levels of poverty and inequality would persist; natural, financial and human resources would be constrained; institutional weakness and corruption would continue; and the dry El Nino weather cycle would have long-term consequences.

Painting four distinct scenarios, VAF said if “hard bargaining and compromise” (the fourth scenario) was not initiated by government, the country would face three grim possibilities for 2030: “Connection and Capture”, in which politically connected interest groups attain the bulk of the land; “Market Power and Concentration”, in which land reform would only benefit commercial interests, neglecting local communities and lastly “Occupation and Confiscation”.

The last scenario, according to the NGO, would be the ugly result of political and social pressure by such entities as the EFF, who represent the frustration of those  who feel government has done little to heed their cry for access to land.

VAF, an offshoot of the Business Trust which was formed at the dawn of democracy to deal with economic transformation initiatives including land reform, has assisted government with several development projects involving land given to disadvantaged communities.

VAF CEO Peter Setou said their report shows that 90% of land transferred to black owners and communities was not economically active. Additionally, while government set a land redistribution target of 2.5 million hectares for between 1994 and 2009, just under half-a-million hectares was redistributed in that time, according to VAF.

Last month, Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Jeff Radebe told Cabinet that government had made significant strides in land reform since 1994, with 54 400 hectares of “strategically located” land redistributed.

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