ANC debate South Africa land reform today
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Mon Dec 17 21:41:09 GMT 2012
VIDEO: Black S Africans still awaiting promised land (2:12)
AlJazeeraEnglish· - Published on 17 Dec 2012
Almost 20 years since the end of apartheid, black
landless South Africans are angry over the
government's failure to address their concerns.
They say they are still waiting for promised
reforms to take place. Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa reports from Johannesburg.
The failure of land reform in South Africa
Al Jazeera - By Iqra Qalam and Joshua Lumet - 6 December 2012
Almost two decades after the end of apartheid in
South Africa, the failure of the agrarian reform
policies of the African National Congress (ANC)
has exposed the bourgeois nationalist liberation
movements inability to resolve the land question.
The land reform promise was encapsulated in the
ANCs 1955 Freedom Charter, the movements main
statement of principles and program. It was
advanced in order to garner the political support
of the rural poor. The ANC claimed that all the
land (would be) re-divided amongst those who work
it to banish famine and land hunger and that
the state shall help the peasants with
implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the
soil and assist the tillers, and that the rural
masses would be entitled to the right to occupy land wherever they choose.
After 1994, the ANC promised to undertake broad
and sweeping action to reverse the deprivations
institutionalized under Apartheid. These promises
were outlined in the Reconstruction and
Development Programme (RDP), a policy framework
developed through extensive consultation between
the ANC and its tripartite alliance partners, the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
and the South African Communist Party (SACP). It
contained government policy guidelines for agricultural and land reform.
The RDPs land reform goals had three broad
thrusts. The first was the strengthening of
tenure rights for the rural poor. Second, land
restitution was to be made to those who could
prove that their or their familys land had been
stolen under Apartheid. And the third was to
redistribute 30 percent of agricultural land to
the rural poor. All three goals were to be
achieved before the year 2000. More than a decade
after this deadline, none of these goals have been realized.
The land restitution promised that people who
were forced off their land from 1913 (when the
Native Land Act was passed) until the end of
Apartheid would have their property rights
reinstated. The process itself was a farce.
Poorly advertised, most people were unaware that
the deadline for lodging restitution claims was
to close at the end of 1996. Late registration
was not permitted, hence the vast majority of
forced removal victims were never considered for
restitution. Among the tiny minority who did
apply, 8,770 claims have yet to be settled;
despite promises that the restitution process would be completed by 2005.
In many of the restitution cases, the primary
beneficiary has died and consequently their
children and grandchildren have become joint
beneficiaries. Worn down by endless bureaucracy,
and countless delays, many have opted for a
meager cash payment in lieu of the valuable prime
urban land from which they were forcibly removed.
There are currently 500,000 subsistence farmers,
struggling to eke out a living, and an additional
11 million rural poor who have not benefitted
from land reform. There has been no mass transfer
of agricultural land; instead the rural poor have
been forced to migrate to the cities, living in
squalid overcrowded townships, searching for
work. Some of the rural poor find employment in
the mines. Much of their meager income is
repatriated to the rural areas in order to
sustain families living on the brink of
starvation.Since 1996, only 7 percent of the
landas opposed to the target of 30 percenthas
been transferred. Of the land that has been
redistributed to black farmers, 90 percent of
farms are no longer productive. Agriculture is a
capital intensive process, requiring tractors,
implements, seed, fertilizer as well as technical
assistance. These land reform support services have not been forthcoming.
In addition, the redistribution of land is
governed by the 1996 Constitution of the Republic
of South AfricaSection 25which states that
property may only be expropriated subject to
compensation, the amount of which and the time
and manner of payment of which have either been
agreed to by those affected or decided or approved by a court.
In order to divert attention away from the
inability of the ANC to implement land reform,
the ANC took a decision to scrap the willing
buyer, willing seller principle at its June
conference this year, with President Jacob Zuma
claiming this principle was the major impediment
to implementing land reform. Following the June
conference, the president released a five point
land reform plan to speed up the process, which
included a provision for buying land at 50
percent of its market value, or at a fair productive value.
The Financial Mail wrote that the President would
have been aware that such statements could impact
heavily on investor confidence. The party was
therefore careful to stress that the speeding up
of land reform would be done in accordance with
the Constitution, without alarming investors or
putting the country at risk, according to the
newspaper.Unfortunately, a lot of what is being
said by the president is heavy on rhetoric and
short on detail, Ruth Hall, senior researcher at
the University of the Western Capes institute
for poverty, land and agrarian studies told the Mail & Guardian newspaper.
While Hall commended the governments attempts to
speed up land reform, she argued that the process
needed to be handled very carefully. Setting up
localised partnerships is a vital ingredient to
the process of equitable land reform, said Hall.
But, how exactly commercial farmers will become
involved in a process that is encouraging them to
accept below market value is the big question.
Johannes Moller, president of Agri SASouth
Africas largest agricultural trade
associationdescribed the current proposals for
land reform as dangerous and unworkable.
We think we should stick to market value-based
land reform. If not, the security needed for a
replacement industry for farmers leading the
sector will be lost and you will be faced with
further unemployment and other related problems, Moller said.
Moller added that this approach could also lead
to banks and other investment institutions
becoming wary of placing funds in agriculture.
This process could then lead to the agriculture
industry in South Africa being crippled by strike
action that has thus far only plagued the Western Cape province.
Research by Princeton University professor
Bernadette Atuahene, who worked with South
Africas department of land affairs and rural
development, claims that there are two reasons
why the ANC has had little success with the
expropriation of land, and therefore its land
reform policiesit is reluctant to do so, and the
constraints imposed by the constitution.
Reassuring international investors, Hall said the
changes announced in June were not much more than
a political maneuver and do not signal a new era of land reform.
Farmer Charl Senekal, South Africas largest
sugar cane producer, said any attempts to
facilitate the sale of land below market should
not be entertained. It is enshrined in our
Constitution that we will be paid a market value
rate for our land, he told the Mail & Guardian
newspaper. Senekal also warned about the
possibility of food insecurity emerging in the
countrys agricultural industry if government did not buy land at market value.
If farmers lose interest in this industry when
they see the opportunity for success is
dwindling, that will immediately lead to food
insecurity and if you thought the disquiet in the
mining sector was badyou havent seen the worst
of what will come, he said.Senekal was referring
to the wildcat strike in the mining industry,
which led to the August 16 Marikana massacre,
where 34 miners were massacred by the South
African Police Services (SAPS). Subsequently,
farm labourers in the Western Cape province
initiated their own strike action aimed at
increasing the current minimum wage, which is set
at R69 (US$7.85) per day, to R150 per day
($16.70).The failure the ANCs land
redistribution policies has a direct bearing on
the militant strike action by farm workers.
Underlying the demand for the wage increase is
the question of land reform, and the promised better life for all.
Despite the promises of equality and
democracy, the fall of Apartheid has ushered in
a new era of misery and social degradation. The
most elementary aspiration of the rural poor, the
desire for land, has been unfulfilled. The ANC,
as handmaiden of the capitalist ruling elite, on
the one hand protects with brutal violence the
inviolable right to private property enshrined in
the Constitution, while on the other hand
deceiving the rural poor into waiting for
Godotan endless wait for something that will never come.
Between two conflicting principlesthe right of
the rich to amass their fortunes and the right of
all people to a better lifethere can be no
compromise. In the words of Karl Marx, Between
equal rights, force decides. The question of
land reform will only be decided by the struggle of classes.
In the Permanent Revolution, Trotsky wrote With
regard to countries with a belated bourgeois
development, especially the colonial and
semi-colonial countries, the theory of the
permanent revolution signifies that the complete
and genuine solution of their tasks of achieving
democracy and national emancipation is
conceivable only through the dictatorship of the
proletariat as the leader of the subjugated
nation, above all of its peasant masses.
The only way forward for a completion of the
democratic and national emancipation tasks posed
most sharply prior to the fall of Apartheid is
through socialist revolution. All major
financial, industrial and manufacturing
corporations as well as industries critical to
the basic functioning of societyincluding
agriculture, telecommunications, education,
health care and transportationmust be subject to
public ownership and democratic control.
The struggle for power requires the unconditional
political independence of the working class from
the parties, political representatives and agents
of the capitalist class. The working class cannot
come to power, let alone implement a socialist
program, if its hands are tied by politically
enfeebling compromises with the political
representatives of other class interests.
What is required is a new leadership in the
working class based on an internationalist and
socialist perspective to carry through the fight
for genuine democracy, equality and socialism.
This means the building of a South African
section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.
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