The African National Congress (ANC), during its 54th policy conference, decided that people living on communal land in South Africa (SA) should gain ownership of the land they inhabit.
These lands are owned by the government and under the custodianship of traditional leaders.
When the commission examining legal and management issues discussed the topic, Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Government, indicated that communities would get some form of tenure.
This can take the form of either full ownership or leasehold. The idea is that there should be a collective ownership and not individual ownership. Bapela emphasised that traditional leaders should be the managers or administrators of the land.
How land is used should also be investigated, said Bapela.
The SA Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, with the cooperation of the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), have started with an investigation around land use. The purpose is to determine which commodities has the best potential to be cultivated in the former homelands.
According to an old land audit by the department, there are about 3 million ha of arable agricultural land in these communal areas.
OWNERSHIP TO ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
The agricultural activities taking place in these communal areas are mainly on a subsistence or small-scale level.
While touring communal farming communities in the Eastern Cape earlier this year, Africanfarming.com learnt from many farmers that the lack of land ownership is a preventing many from becoming fully-fledged commercial farmers.
Without land tenure, these farmers find it even more challenging to access financing, since they can’t offer their land as collateral, and can’t afford the large capital input modern day agriculture requires.
During the recent African Agri Investment Indaba taking place in Cape Town, many business and agricultural leaders mentioned that the lack of access to land is one of the factors preventing investment into agriculture on the continent, and hampering transformation of the sector.