"A story about sharing the land"
This is a story about an inclusive approach to land reform with a pro-poor orientation.
Policy makers create an enabling environment in which a wide range of actors can contribute to land reform. Hard talk and compromises by government, small-scale farmers, land reform beneficiaries, civil society organisations and financing partners open the way for a collaborative approach. The idea of an inclusive approach focused on the poor takes hold. Multiple forms of ownership, tenure, land use and scale of operations emerge. Smallholder farmers and the previously excluded rural poor are the winners and the losers are those who use the land as a source of patronage and privilege.
The context eases. Initially growth is slow and poverty and inequality are ingrained, but gradually global conditions ease. Social compacts between strategic partners pave the way for increased growth in South Africa.
In the build-up to the 2019 elections there is rising pressure on the ruling party. Public resources are declining and leadership changes must be negotiated. A groundswell in the ruling party demands a change in trajectory. Following the elections new leaders bring a new approach. With reduced support the ruling party moves to share the burden of governance. However, building a fair and prosperous country is not just a task for the government; all citizens must be enabled to play their part. The minister of rural development and land reform moves to work in partnership with farmers big and small, land reform beneficiaries, civil society organisations and financiers.
Hard bargaining and compromises unclutter the policy agenda. Incentives are negotiated to get private landowners, financiers, NGOs, local communities, universities, input suppliers and retailers to support land and agrarian reform. Small-scale farmers are supported by public and private organisations. Ceilings on farm sizes are retracted as the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act is repealed. Unused freehold land is taxed and uncompetitive behaviour controlled. Standard settlement offers (part cash and part housing) are negotiated for claimants seeking cash settlements. Land acquisition is accelerated by providing just and equitable compensation without undermining agricultural productivity.
New relationships start to bear fruit, but operating conditions remain difficult. District land reform committees start to identify land for redistribution. They monitor compliance with the AgriBEE Charter and farmworker evictions. Five thousand black small-scale farmers enter formal supply chains and 150 000 continue to supply informal markets. Unreliable rainfall places dryland agriculture under pressure and maize production declines. The demand for commodities rises, agricultural commodity prices increase and food prices rise. Exporters benefit, but the weak rand increases the price of imports and accelerates the drive to mechanisation and increased concentration. The courts support the right of communities to select the tenure options that suit them, but banks decline to accept communal rights as collateral for loans.
Where does it lead by 2030?
Land reform has become a shared responsibility among a wide range of actors supported by an enabling state committed to pro-poor land and agrarian reform.
On the land there is growing plurality in the South African countryside. There is a greater diversity of land holding and land use. Land rights are clearer and partnerships are developing to include small landholders, commercial farmers and active citizens. Different scales of agricultural production are evident around the cities and in rural areas. Forty per cent of agricultural land outside the former homelands is black-owned.
As a country South Africa is benefitting from improved growth and greater cooperation as it faces continuing challenges. The growth rate has moved up to 3.5% and rising optimism amongst South Africans is visible in their renewed engagement with each other. There is a greater sense that opportunities and challenges are shared and can be addressed. Food security remains fragile at both national and household levels. The stage is set to tackle the security of tenure for farmworkers and backyard shack dwellers, the proliferation of informal settlements, and the development of communal land.
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