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Land Reform Action Plan on the Horizon

September 12, 2014

Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

An action plan is being put together based on recommendations gleaned during the recent Land Tenure Summit held in Johannesburg.

The rural development and land reform department convened the summit to discuss challenges in land reform in South Africa.

Delegates included academics, researchers, traditional leaders, NGOs, land tenure experts, government officials, farmers and agribusiness.

Five commission were set up to deliberate on key issues:

• Communal land tenure policy
• Communal property associations
• Strengthening the rights of farm workers on commercial land
• Agricultural land holdings policy
• Transformation of rural areas

In a statement the department declares that a number of recommendations flowing from the five commissions are to be implemented by the department immediately during the current financial year.

Some of them include clear distinctions to be made between the roles and functions of traditional leaders and ward councillors, first right of refusal for family members, clarify definitions of rights, community to decide on the type of governance structure for communal property, clarify relationships between communal property associations and municipalities, establish tripartite forum involving government, land owners and farm workers, open up legal aid for farm dwellers and workers, adopt the accelerated land reform programme as proposed by the National Development Plan, set up district land reform committees, draw up a specific farmer support programme, address problems arising from land invasions and establish a task team to complete the Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act process.

A task team will also be set up to seek more input on the policy proposals on strengthening farm workers’ rights prior to approaching cabinet for approval.

The department also points out that other recommendations to be implemented in the medium to long-term include updating policies, legislation and institutional arrangements.

Policy and proposed legislation will be developed to meet the call for a Land Rights Ombudsman.

The department is also considering legislation to formalise communal land rights.