Despite the implied national furore over the land debate, it turns out that most South Africans of voting age prioritise jobs and security over land ownership issues as their most urgent concerns.
This is according to data analytics firm Afrobarometer, which conducted a survey of 1 800 adults in August and September.
The highlighted findings in the survey’s report suggested that most people were in favour of more moderate land policies than expropriation.
During the presentation of the report yesterday, the company revealed that between 2002 and 2015, land as a priority only resonated with about 2% of the population and it only rose to priority status in 2018 for 7% of the sampled groups.
In the list of priorities, Communications director at Afribarometer Sibusiso Nkomo said the top three, according to their research, were employment, crime and security and then housing. Land as a priority was only 13th.
This year, parliament adopted a motion by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) endorsing the expropriation of land without compensation, setting in motion a process led by the Constitutional Review Committee of signing an expropriation policy into law.
But Nkomo suggested political parties, which have been at the centre of heated debates over land and property rights, were out of touch with the wants and needs of their voters.
Nkomo said this may have to do with the immediate needs of many South Africans who were unemployed or worried about job security because of poverty and, for similar reasons, were more worried about having a place to live.
This divide between the privileged and the poor presented itself in other parts of the survey. Those who had full-time employment were more likely to agree with the willing buyer, willing seller policy than the unemployed.
But, in the same breath, the majority of younger people felt that property was too expensive.
Despite this, 55% of those surveyed were in favour of the willing buyer, willing seller policy staying in place in terms of land redistribution.
In terms of land restitution, more South Africans wanted land from which people were forcefully removed to be prioritised to this end.
Meanwhile, the draft report on public submissions on whether to change the constitution in order to expropriate land was expected to be adopted by the end of this month.
This had seemed unlikely as parties in the committee have been at loggerheads over the use of all submissions on the debate rather than the proposed 400, sampled, submissions.