green paper on land reform in south africa


Ruth Hall provides a sound critical appraisal of this report in Another Countryside:

The new Green Paper on Land Reform offers little policy direction for the important but controversial work of land reform. It was the culmination of a long, hotly debated policy process which started with government’s acknowledgement at the National Land Summit in 2005 that land reform was not on track, and a commitment to review its ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ policy.

This about-turn was given added impetus at the ANC’s National Conference at Polokwane in 2007, where its resolutions provided a clear and progressive mandate for a pro-poor land reform, to expand the ‘role and productivity of modern small-holder farming’ while ‘maintaining a vibrant and competitive agricultural sector’. After the 2009 elections, Zuma’s government declared that reinvigorating rural development and land reform would be one of its top five priorities, and promised to unveil a new policy to replace the 1997 White Paper on South African Land Policy. That was two and a half years ago.

This wait has proved to be in vain. Those concerned about the future of rural South Africa have been dumbfounded at the vacuous Green Paper unveiled by Minister Gugile Nkwinti. Consisting of a mere eleven pages of rhetoric and vague proposals, it fudges all the most pressing questions facing the programme and falls far short of being the new policy framework that has been promised over the past six years.

Piece by Dave Steward, Executive Director of the FW de Klerk Foundation, on the other hand, is upset by the language used in the report ( politicsweb).

Few documents provide a more disheartening illustration of the degree to which our national discourse has been re-racialised than the recently published Green Paper on Land Reform.

The Green Paper’s ideological fountainhead is the ANC’s National Democratic Revolution – which, believe it or not, still views South Africa through the prism of a continuing liberation struggle against whites. The ideology is reflected in the Green Paper’s assertion that “all anti-colonial struggles are, at the core, about two things: repossession of land lost through force or deceit; and, restoring the centrality of indigenous culture.” The authors are actually saying that seventeen years after 1994 the anti-colonialist struggle is not over; whites are colonialists; the struggle is against them; and only the indigenous culture should be central.

According to the Green Paper, “…the debate about agrarian change, land reform and rural development” should begin with national sovereignty – since national sovereignty is defined in terms of land. The implication is that national sovereignty will not be restored until a sufficient amount of land has been repossessed by black South Africans. In the Green paper’s view this ‘fundamental assumption’ should supersede all other considerations, including “talk of effective land reform and food sovereignty and security.”

But how can this be? Is this ‘fundamental assumption’ really more important than the nation’s food security? Is the United States any less sovereign because all its agricultural land is owned by less than 3% of the population? And how does ownership of land by white citizens detract from national sovereignty?


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