The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the release of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture’s Report and we call on government and Parliament to now move with speed to act on its progressive recommendations. These include the tabling of the long-delayed Expropriation Bill and the Amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for expropriation without compensation. This must happen without delay.
Land remains a ticking time bomb for this country and it will explode if we continue to ignore it. The majority of South Africans, in particular, Africans and the Coloured community, lack access to sufficient land.
People are unable to build decent homes in many urban areas and millions of South Africans are condemned to squalor in informal settlements and back yards.
We also want to see land given to farmworkers, emerging farmers, residents of rural and communal areas, who want to become farmers. The land issue remains an emotional scar and it needs to be resolved if we are to succeed in healing the nation and addressing the original sin of apartheid and colonialism; the systematic theft of land from the indigenous majority.
The federation has noted that AgriSA and others have already come out publicly to attack the Panel’s report in the hope of protecting the status quo and preserving the legacy of apartheid. This is neither helpful nor rational because the Panel has produced a logical and progressive map for the nation to address the land question. This must now be implemented and we cannot be held to ransom by people who want to preserve their inherited privileges.
Whilst government and Parliament must now be seized with processing the Expropriation Bill and amending Section 25, they must also wake up to the need to fast track the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill, the Regulation of Land Holdings Bill, the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill and the Communal Land Tenure Bill.
These are critical to empowering the government to drive land reform and protect the rights of the dispossessed. Equally, the government must get its act together because passing laws is only one part of solving the land crisis. Emerging farmers must be given real support to survive and grow; this includes access to capital, training, equipment, transport and markets.
The government must do more to promote a buy local campaign and exports. Workers must be given access to decent land, housing and basic services close to their places of work and not dumped in far-flung poverty-stricken townships. For far too long the government has simply chosen to be complacent with its unworkable policies
Issued by COSATU
Cde Matthew Parks
COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687