The South African government on Friday hailed the “steady progress” in its land reform two days after the United States criticized the process as “disastrous” for the economy.
“Our commitment to fast-track the process of land reform as part of our efforts to address the challenges of landlessness, poverty and inequality is beginning to show steady progress with the ongoing release of the land owned by the state,” Deputy President David Mabuza said.
Mabuza was speaking at a meeting in Cape Town of the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform to assess progress made in accelerating the land reform process.
The meeting considered progress made by the government with regards to the program and plan of action for the release of state-owned land parcels for human settlement and agricultural production.
Members of the IMC on Land Reform will now embark on a process to hand over the land parcels to beneficiaries throughout all the nine provinces, Mabuza said.
The IMC on Land Reform, chaired by Mabuza, was established by President Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 to coordinate and implement measures to accelerate the land reform, including land tenure and administration, the provision of agricultural support and redress of spatial inequality within a broad and comprehensive land redistribution and agricultural development program.
With regards to the release of state-owned land, the government will, in line with the announcement made by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week during his State of the Nation Address (SONA), release about 700,000 hectares of land parcels to beneficiaries at various provinces between March and December 2020, according to Mabuza.
South Africa has set March 31, 2020 as the deadline for amending the Constitution to pave way for land expropriation without compensation.
South Africa’s land reform has drawn ire from opponents, who argue that the process will drive away white farmers, threaten food security and negatively impact the economy.
On February 19, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized South Africa’s land reform policy to expropriate land without compensation, saying it would be “disastrous” for the economy.
For true inclusive and sustainable economic liberation, African economies need strong rule of law, respect for property rights, and regulation that encourages investment, Pompeo said during a visit to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The South African government has repeatedly assured that it will pursue the reform without destabilizing the agricultural sector, endangering food security in the country, or undermining economic growth and job creation. Enditem