Land Reform Policy
To achieve the DA’s objective of an Open Opportunity Society for All, the DA’s economic and social policies are primarily aimed at creating the circumstances for growth and job creation.
In rural economies South Africa’s history of racial dispossession has left the country with skewed patterns of ownership that excludes the majority of South Africans from land assets and inclusion in rural economies.
The DA supports a land reform process that achieves redress in rural communities, that promotes economic inclusion to lift rural people out of poverty, and supports growth and prosperity in the agricultural sector.
As land and land-use is intricately tied to food production and food security, policies that affect land ownership and land use must prioritise the need to ensure the continued supply of food at prices that are affordable to ordinary South Africans.
Progress in achieving equitable land ownership has been very slow and the ANC government’s land reform approach has not been successful in establishing an emerging class of commercial farmers, in supporting subsistence farming to maintain and enhance food security, in addressing the insecure land rights of the millions of South Africans living on state-owned communal land, or in addressing the urgent land pressures in urban areas.
We must shift the focus of land reform from meeting targets to meeting needs.
The DA proposes an approach to land reform based on the following principles:
- Land reform is a moral and political imperative and represents an opportunity to invigorate rural economies by giving rural dwellers greater access to productive assets.
- The land reform programme must look beyond rural land and truly address the land needs of South Africans who have historically been excluded from land and property ownership, including the need for access to urban land and housing opportunities.
- Our land reform strategy must be informed not by the need to achieve quantitative land targets, but by the objectives to (i) support a thriving commercial agricultural sector that can protect South Africa’s food security, (ii) promote emerging small-scale farmers where economically viable, and (iii) alleviate poverty and support household food security through appropriate assistance for subsistence agriculture. The success of land reform should therefore be determined in terms of the livelihoods created or supported and economic value created, rather than the hectares of land transferred.
- We must ensure that citizens in the former homelands enjoy their full rights as democratic citizens by giving them security of tenure on the land on which they live and farm.
- Insufficient funding and institutional challenges in the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform cannot be allowed to undermine the land reform process.
- Comprehensive support, tailored to the needs of beneficiaries as they move through the various stages of business development, must be understood and be one of the top priorities of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform.
- Stakeholders in the private sector and civil society can make an invaluable contribution to the success of land reform, and government departments must actively pursue partnerships and collaboration to achieve shared goals.
- We need comprehensive data on land reform projects that will allow for the identification of common failures that must be addressed and the duplication of models that have been successful.
- Confidence in key assets in rural economies must be restored through clarity on the approach to land reform.
The DA believes that every South African family should have access to adequate shelter and supports the interpretation of section 26 of the constitution which requires that this right must be ‘progressively realised’. The DA will continue to offer state subsidised housing opportunities until the challenge has been met.
26 (1) Everyone has the right to have access to adequate housing (2) The state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive realisation of this right. (The Constitution of South Africa, 1996)
The DA considers government policy on human settlements to be an opportunity to make citizenship more inclusive.
Our human settlements policy has a number of distinguishing characteristics.
Firstly, we believe that public housing options should make greater use of the energies and commitment of the poor, rather than seeing them as passive recipients. Previous delivery, while statistically impressive, has failed to lay a solid foundation for a more inclusive society and has tended to trap the poor in new urban ghettos, far from work opportunities and in (limited) possession of decaying properties for which there is only the most limited market.
Secondly, human settlements policy cannot be separated from its immediate and related context, in particular issues of urban form (densification) and economic opportunity. The DA envisages a future in which we have overcome the spatial legacy of apartheid, where the urban poor live closer to work opportunities, where they regard their properties as the fruits of their own labour rather than gifts from the state, where amenities such as schools and clinics are readily accessible, and where communities are characterised by a mix of incomes and housing types. The planned densification of urban areas will be an aspect of all human settlements developments and public transport will be oriented towards servicing these.
Thirdly, housing policy must deliver a spectrum of support options for different parts of the housing market. By encouraging market-based solutions for housing provision in so-called ‘gap markets’ and for self-help initiatives, state resources can be freed up to service the poorest and most vulnerable. Differentiated housing lists will also allow DA governments to meet the needs of specific beneficiary groups through the appropriate mix of fully-subsidised housing, self-help initiatives, in-situ upgrades, site-and-service schemes and social housing. The use of flexible subsidies will allow users more choice in the manner in which their housing needs are being met.
In addition, we believe that there can make be much faster progress in addressing the housing backlog if we allow the private sector greater scope to become involved and to develop innovative models for housing delivery and affordable integrated housing developments.
For the DA, the ‘progressive realisation of adequate shelter’ hinges on:
- Achieving higher levels of economic growth to increase fiscal space, decrease unemployment and reduce the household indebtedness which currently constrains housing options;
- The removal of legal, administrative, operational and financial obstacles that currently impede access (including the failure to provide title deeds for state-subsidised housing);
- The effective provision of important social and economic goods such as land, water, sanitation and other key services;
- Effective partnership with the private sector; and
- A continued search for new, innovative housing models, building technologies, funding structures and community participation initiatives to keep improving the quality, affordability and flexibility of housing options in South Africa.