Advocate Ngcukaitobi: Govt has wasted billions on unhelpful land reform

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi has told Parliament that land restitution has not been very helpful over the last 25 years

FILE: Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi at the North Gauteng High Court on 12 December 2018. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - Prominent advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi says the government has wasted billions of rand on land reform and needs to rethink its approach.

His submission followed that of another legal mind Wim Trengove who said it’s not necessary to amend the Constitution.

Ngcukaitobi has told Parliament that land restitution has not been very helpful over the last 25 years.

He is the second top legal mind to brief Parliament on Friday as Members of Parliament continue deliberations into amending Section 25 of the Constitution.

“We also know that we’ve basically wasted money on land reform. We’ve spent R54 billion, what have we got in exchange? 7% of commercial agriculture?”

He said restitution is about the past, while redistribution is about the future. On compensation, Ngcukaitobi called for “flexibility”.

“But, I don’t believe that we can design a clause that will make non-compensation the default position. For the most part, we still need flexibility around just and equitable compensation because a lot of places will deserve compensation.”

After the input from experts, the committee will draft final recommendations.

Ngcukaitobi called for the formation of a land tribunal: “The land tribunal which may be headed by a judge comprising of three or four other members, which would run for five years to deal with all of the problems of land reforms.”

Advocate Trengove told the committee it was not necessary to amend the Constitution, but he does support a redistribution programme.

“I respect the fact that the committee has decided to amend and I will come back to the political consideration to the amendment. But if you are asking as a matter of law, it doesn’t seem necessary.”

The next step for the committee is to finalise its policy framework and a follow-up meeting has been called for next week to look at the draft report.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)