Given the problems around land restitution, it remains to be seen whether expropriation without compensation will be the silver bullet for this.
This was one of the viewpoints of Prof Olaf Zenker from the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Fribourg and also a fellow at the Stellebosch Institute for Advance Study (STIAS) on Tuesday (17 April 2018). He delivered the third public STIAS lecture of 2018.
In his speech, Zenker highlighted some of the obstacles to land restitution and said the process has been too slow.
“Apart from the question of speed, we have numerous implementation problems. There’s a lack of political will, a problem of policy inconsistency, as well as a lack of a comprehensive vision.”
“Since there is no overarching framework, you have many policy decisions which don’t make sense together.”
Zenker said government hasn’t made it clear who the beneficiaries of land restitution should be.
“On the one hand, it has produced policies that focus strongly on individual rights and on the other hand it has promised the chiefs that they can run the show and take over the land.”
Zenker also said that those involved in the land restitution process aren’t propely trained and don’t have the resources to do their work.
“People lack the necessary training to do historical research to establish the validity of claims. They also lack the materials to keep records and to make sure that processes are maintained and there are a proper database of all land so that people know what cases exist and where there are overlapping cases.”
Zenker criticised government for only allocating 1% of the annual budget to land reform.
“The land restitution process is heavily under-resourced. It’s not only a question of money; it’s also a question of capacity.”
Despite his criticism, Zenker did point out that land restitution hasn’t been a complete failure.
“What is completely forgotten is that the vast majority of land claims were solved not through land restoration but through financial compensation.”
The money that people received helped to improve their lives, Zenker added.
He called for the land restitution process to be finalised.
Main photo: Credit: Pixabay
Source Stellenbosch University