LAND AND AGRICULTURAL POLICY CENTRE (LAPC)
"LAND REFORM WHITE PAPER"
LAPC has actively participated in the shaping of the Land Reform policies and procedures, which form a major part of the White Paper. This has included extensive inputs into the Green Paper and the subsequent consultation process, as well as assisting in drafting some of the key pieces of legislation mentioned in the White Paper. Broadly LAPC supports the overall intention and scope of the White Paper in the belief that a sound programme in land reform is crucial to not only tackle past injustices and inequalities, but also to contribute to the economic development of the rural poor. There are, however, specific points which we believe will have bearing on the success of the land reform programme either inadequately or not covered within the White Paper. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring these to the attention of the Standing Committee. We deal with them here in brief summary on the principle that if further information, or more in-depth inputs, are required we would be very happy to assist.
Integrated Institutional Approach to Land Reform Delivery
The White Paper highlights the importance of close co-operation between national, provincial and local government to ensure the delivery of land and aftercare support. In reality this cooperation is proving difficult to achieve and putting at risk the longer-term viability of the goals of land reform. More attention is required to the structuring of institutions which bind in a common programme, the various government departments which together are able to ensure effective implementation of land reform.
Communication Structures and Processes for Appeal
The White Paper is specific about the parts of the population who should benefit from land reform. It also suggests some broad ways of prioritising. However, given the resources available, benefits in the first number of years are likely to accrue slowly and to a small number of beneficiaries. There is no system proposed to enable potential beneficiaries to question priorities or the way in which the policy/procedures are enacted for them. To rectify this it is important to consider the inclusion of recourse to an Ombudsperson
Integration of Environmental Safeguards into Land Reform Programme
The White Paper provides strong principles to underpin the importance of integration of environmental issues into the mainstream of land reform. However there is a lack of substantial statement of the programme through which this will be achieved. This is particularly worrying since the emphasis on sound environmental practice can in many instances be seen to run counter to objectives of achieving rapid transfer of land.
Provision of Adequate Resources for the Land Claims Commissions
The "rights" base of the legislation policy and procedures are important in attempting to redress some of the injustices and inequalities of the past. Both in theory and practice it has resulted in a substantial number of claims. In comparison in countries like New Zealand and the USA, there were comparatively very few claims yet after more than 10 years many of these claims are still not properly settled.
The White Paper should specify and emphasize the resources required to settle land claims in a timeous manner. It should also address the need to establish procedural mechanisms to do quick initial assessment of claims, allowing for rapid rejection of those with no legal standing and helping to prioritise others.
Dealing with Land Restitution Claims concerning Dispossession before 1913
The White Paper refers to the fact that the Minister can make exceptions in allowing for claims concerning pre-1913 dispossession. Criteria should be set down for such a decision to ensure equity and transparency.
Adequacy of Existing Land Grants and Effects on Forms of Ownership
The redistribution policy concentration on willing buyer - willing seller within the land market, means that land reform tenants are often having to pool their land grant resources in order to acquire farmland. This entails the establishment of group based ownership arrangements and new economic relationships. It remains unclear as to whether such relationships are tenable, for large groups, beyond the initial optimism of the joint purchase. The setting up of the CPA provides an institutional perspective however it might be difficult to sustain with the emergence of varying economic interests within group ownership and control.
Setting of Priorities for the Land Reform Programme
The Land Reform programme is broad in scope and in the number of people it could potentially benefit. To date allocated government resources are small. More emphasis is required on the programme approach to prioritising and resource allocation both between the different pillars of land reform and among different categories of beneficiaries. This needs more specific definition both in terms of the objectives of justice and redistribution as well as the economic impact both on livelihoods and the national economy.
Land Reform and Economic Development
The White Paper outlines in general terms of the possible economic objectives and benefits of land reform. It does not provide a programme perspective on how these will be achieved either in the prioritising of land reform or in the detail of how such economic development should be enhanced through post transfer support. In light of the existing government fiscal policies, the practical relationship between land reform and economic development requires very specific programme objectives and their location within the priorities for land reform.
Cost Implications of Land Reform Implementation and Implementation of Relevant Legislation
Clarity is needed on the likely costs of delivering the Land Reform Programme and particularly skills necessary to achieve this. Without more specific detail on this, parts of the White Paper might well be only a "rights" wish list and not a practical statement of the realisable.
This is also relevant to the preparation of legislation (Section 4.2) where there is no costing or shadow costing to the society as a whole to effectively implement the legislation e.g. Security of Tenure Act. What are the cost implications of required court action and what access will poor rural people have to the necessary legal expertise to protect their rights under this Act.
Balancing the "Carrot and Stick Approach"' to Protecting and Restoring Rights
The White Paper places a strong emphasis on the use of punitive legislative to protect the land rights of the poor. While this is important it is often very expensive with limited impact. It is also important to explore possible incentives, including fiscal incentives like targeted tax reductions and use of state subsidies, as an encouragement to existing landowners to extend land rights to people holding informal rights on their land.
The support for equity sharing as a way to use land as an investment and to support economic development of the rural poor, is rightly emphasized in the White Paper. There is, however, the danger that this mechanism can be used merely to shift land resources into investments without giving the rural poor active participation in entrepreneurial decisions.
Integrated Financing of Post-Transfer Support
The White Paper recognises the importance of a range of financial and other supports to increase the possibility of land reform making a positive contribution to the livelihoods of beneficiaries. This involves an integration of the programme approach to the various subsidies, credit and outreach support. The White Paper does not outline mechanisms for achieving this.
Link between Policy and Implementation
As the land reform programme has moved from policy and procedure development, the significance of the Provincial offices as implementing agents has increased. For this reason the Department of Land Affairs' programme of decentralisation is crucial. This must also include the institutional structure for Provincial offices to provide greater input to critiquing, informing and recommending policy to assist implementation.
Alternative Targeting of the Communication Programme
In the past this programme has concentrated on communication to politicians and professional people. The focus of the communication strategy should be more specifically on potential beneficiaries and institutions that they use, e.g. teaching land reform in schools, advertising it at clinics.
There should be training programs for government officials or the civil service on the basic approach to the land reform program to include teachers, extension officers, the police, welfare officials, etc., at all three spheres of government, especially the district and local spheres. This would give capacity to enable an improvement in the communication strategy for land reform and facilitate more rapid delivery on the ground.
Exit Strategies for Land Reform Beneficiaries
If successful, the land reform programme will provide assistance for people to access land in a number of different ways, and with the potential to hold it under different forms of tenure. It is inevitable that there will be some people whose particular land reform transaction does not work. There is no mention of potential exit strategies for such people.
Contradiction in Policy on Disposal of State Land
The Land Reform Programme highlights the importance of the disposal of state land to land reform beneficiaries as one important programme to help realize land reform objectives. However, there is a contradiction between government policies encouraging the release of such land for these purposes, and those that emphasize the importance of provincial and national government maximising its resources by obtaining the best market return possible for land and other assets.
Interaction between the three Pillars of Land Reforms
The formulation of land reform policy has stressed the three different pillars of land reform. Successful implementation is demonstrating that there is a need for greater programmatic and budgetary integration of these pillars. The White Paper should give greater emphasizes for the greater integration of these programs at the point of planning and implementation.
Unresolved Policy on the Relationship between Traditional Authorities and Democratically Elected Authorities
The White Paper has little to say about thc role of traditional authorities in the process of and reform. While it is accepted that this is a complex policy issue the gap between policy positions and dynamics on the ground makes the failure to resolve this a great impediment to implementation.