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'Land reform has moved backwards'

The ANC government’s track record on land reform has been poor over the past 20 years, says Professor Ruth Hall of the UWC’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas).

FILE: Professor Ruth Hall speaks at a public lecture on the current land debate in South Africa at the University of the Western Cape. Picture: @UWConline/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The African National Congress (ANC) government’s track record on land reform has been poor over the past 20 years.

This is according to Professor Ruth Hall of the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (Plaas).

“In the first decade of democracy, over two million people were displaced from farms. And of those, around 940,000 were forcibly evicted. So, this means, overall, we’re moving backwards in terms of black people’s access to land.”

Hall made the remarks during a public lecture on Thursday on the land debate in South Africa.

The lecture came soon after President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement this week, that the ANC plans to push ahead with changing the Constitution to speed up land reform.

She says land reform has moved backwards.

“In reality, as a society, we’re engaged in an anti-agrarian reform, an anti-land reform. Fewer richer people and mostly bigger companies are coming to own most land while workers are being expelled from it.”

Most land remains in white hands, making it a potent symbol of lingering inequalities 25 years on from the end of apartheid.

Since white minority rule ended in 1994, the ANC has followed a “willing seller, willing buyer” model whereby the government buys white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks. Progress has been slow.

Some investors are concerned that the ANC’s reforms will result in white farmers being stripped of land to the detriment of the economy, although Ramaphosa has repeatedly said any changes will not compromise food security or economic growth.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)