Land Administration: 4th Leg Of Land Reform

Speaking at Land Reform Colloquium, Siyabu Manona of Phuhlisani, who is an active participant in LandNNES , argued that Land Administration should be seen as the fourth leg of land reform. “Currently, nearly 70% of South African citizens live off-register in communal areas, informal settlements, RDP houses, etc. This figure is increasing! Admin done well – will have a positive impact on other three legs,” he said.

Figure 1 Siyabu Manona speaking at Land Reform debate
Figure 1 Siyabu Manona speaking at Land Reform debate

Land administration is the process of determining, recording and disseminating information about ownership and land rights, value and use of land, when implementing land policies. It is built on rules. However, according to Manona, land administration itself does not give people land rights, it should be seen as the infrastructure required to support land rights and give the rights meaning.

“Land administration is what’s missing in South Africa. We need a capable state to fix it for the benefit of the majority. We need a new land administration toolbox,” said Manona at a colloquium called by the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform on the 7th of December 2018 at Boksburg, Gauteng. The Colloquium was attended by close to 200 delegates from across the public sector -including parliamentarians, private sector, civil society, academia, and other concerned citizens.

The colloquium consisted of participants with diverse views as the ten-member panel of experts, appointed in March 2018 by the president of South Africa and chaired by Vuyo Mhlati, is framing discussion papers towards formulating policy proposals. The latter will be presented to a bigger, more representative audience in February 2019, prior to the submission of the Final Report to the Presidency in March 2019.

The Panel’s mandate is to provide a unified policy perspective on land reform in respect of restitution, redistribution and tenure reform. Its role is distinct from and does not duplicate the role of Parliament’s constitutional review committee which is considering whether or not to propose an amendment to the Constitution to alter or clarify the terms on which expropriation is allowed.

Speaking at the colloquium, Manona argued that South Africa needs a land administration which reflects an inclusive property structure of the country: “There is a clear issue with the property structure in South Africa. To address this, two pillars are important – to strengthen the law, and to
uphold the law.”

“Before 1994 there was a strong land administration for black people, but they had very few rights. The paradox is that currently, black people have strong rights, but this is supported by a weak land administration. The legal framework of property, which fits the colonial system does not fit the
system in which most people live.”

In her closing remarks, Dr Mahlati indicated that land reform policies will not be effective without effective and efficient Land Administration Framework and Land Governance Systems. “This includes the establishment of the Land Observatory that must record a continuum of rights, land use, water, minerals, leases, usufruct,” she concluded.

The panel will submit its final report to the Presidency in March 2019.

Sobantu Mzwakali writes for LandNNES
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