South Africa: Land Rights Amendment Bill A Step in the Right Direction

Published on 1st July 2014

The signing into law the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill and the Property Valuation Bill by President Jacob Zuma of South Africa raises a glimmer of hope that the ANC government is committed to addressing the needs of its majority black citizenry. The legislation re-opens the restitution claims process which closed at the end of 1998 and saw 80,000 land restitution claims lodged. Millions of South Africans were dispossessed of their land as a result of past discrimination. As the law is enforced, the concerns raised by the Economic Freedom Fighters that it divides South Africans into ethnic groups; distorts the history of land dispossession; is expensive to enforce and that it has failed before, should be addressed.

There is a loud cry in the rainbow nation – as in other African countries - to address the rising inequality and interrogate ownership of their economies. The socio-economic benefits of independence are not trickling down to the electorate in most African countries. This is because their economies are  foreign owned  and are run with African 'managers' (or a clique of privileged African elites) who widen the rich -poor gap.

The law is a pointer  to Africa to address deep seated grievances resulting from the colonial legacy such as resource distribution and boundaries. It is also a call for building understanding amongst Africans and settlers. It is a pragmatic growth strategy that aims to realise the country's full economic potential while helping to bring the black majority into the economic mainstream. This should be done systematically and soberly.

This article has been read 2,609 times