The conclusion of the 55th edition of the ANC’s elective conference marked a crucial moment in South Africa’s political landscape.
With 4 000 delegates in attendance, the conference witnessed the formulation of ambitious resolutions spanning social, economic, and political spheres.
While public attention on political resolutions is often fleeting, the ANC’s commitments hold particular significance due to their impact on policy direction, constitutional matters, and government oversight.
The ANC, whether as a political organisation or the governing party, has often faced criticism for a less-than-stellar track record in policy implementation and enforcement.
The formulation of commendable policies is scuttled by a gap in execution and a lack of efficient monitoring mechanisms.
Following the party’s elective conference, it is perhaps worthwhile to reflect on some of the fundamental discussions and resolutions, especially those relating to land reform.
There is a shared consensus that while the government has made strides in returning land to communities displaced by repressive apartheid policies, the overall progress in the land reform programme has been slow.
According to the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, a total of 82 976 land claims lodged before the cut-off date of December 30 1998 have been settled.
This translates to 3.8-million hectares benefiting 2.3-million beneficiaries, with the allocation of R22-billion to those who opted for financial compensation, R25-billion for the acquisition of land, and R5-billion for grants.
Slow pace of land reform
Despite this progress, there is growing frustration and discontent regarding the sluggish pace of land reform.
Several reports, including the high-level panel report (Motlanthe report) and the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform report, have delved into the causes of this slow progress.
In essence, both reports concur on several key impediments: a lack of government capacity and coordination, corruption, elite bias, inadequate legislative frameworks, uncertainty about reform objectives, budgetary constraints, and insufficient post-settlement support.
The elective conference rightly acknowledged the necessity of policy interventions to accelerate land reform, emphasising the enactment of the Expropriation Act, which is in an advanced legislative stage, as a crucial piece of the puzzle.
The bill aims to align expropriation law with the constitution and to ensure, among other things, that expropriation is not arbitrarily used and only used as a last resort.
However, this process must be concluded to provide certainty to the market.
Another crucial resolution passed during the elective conference was to enhance the operational capacity of the Land Bank to help the institution fulfil its mandate.
The bank should be supported and adequately resourced to enable it to fulfil its mandate.
Persistent power outages
The productivity of numerous medium- and large-scale farmers is being adversely affected by persistent power outages and the lack of support for these farms.
Recognising the pivotal role of uninterrupted and reliable energy supply in the agricultural sector, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has collaborated with the Land Bank to introduce a blended financing instrument.
This initiative aims to assist farmers to secure access to alternative energy solutions to mitigate the impact of recurring electricity outages. However, it is yet to be determined how many farmers will benefit from this fund.
The energy crunch facing the country will be with us for the foreseeable future, hence this fund must be established to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural sector.
While the conference identified key issues and potential interventions for land reform, there is a need for better coordination and follow-through.
Legislative changes may provide additional tools for land allocation and create a legal framework for addressing the challenges, but it is crucial to recognise that legislative measures alone will not overcome structural impediments.
Having worked with beneficiaries of the land reform programme for over 10 years, the Vumelana Advisory Fund is of the view that there is an opportunity to improve the land reform programme and refine proposed resolutions for practical viability.
The challenges in land reform and making land productive in South Africa necessitate a holistic and coordinated approach.
Coordination and follow-through on these resolutions will enable progress in the land reform programme. It has been a year since these resolutions were made.
- Setou is the CEO of the Vumelana Advisory Fund, a non-profit organisation that helps beneficiaries of the land reform programme to put their land to productive use