Land Reclamation: Arms or Not?

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By Ilyia Metanoia

This article can also be found in the print Edition 2 of VARSITY Newspaper.

 

Image from drum.com

It goes without saying that growing up as a black youth presents itself with more challenges than any other racial group in South Africa. The idea of an increasingly proportionate ownership of land against a socio-political backdrop like #FeesMustFall, gives one hope that despite the (socio-economic) positions of the historically disadvantaged, the distinctive intersection between class and race can be blurred. However, if the democratic duration of 1994 is anything to go by, then Land expropriation is just a façade for reconciliation whilst on-going socio-economic issues continue to rage.

The strength of civil society is not one to be reckoned with. Numerous social groups are known to lobby for a Bill of Land reform. However, if arms are used in the process of attaining land reform, the possibility of violence is probable. The use of arms by political powers runs the risk of normalizing the possession of arms which would, in turn, affect the perceptions of violence. What then stops civil society from breaking out into civil war? Furthermore, the use of arms would instigate the prioritisation of ‘national’ interest at the expense of human security.

Expropriating rural land requires much administration which proves to be problematic with respect to the rightful recipients and sustainability. Land is a commodity that needs to be valued and traded on the market. How would the government ensure that land will be reliably and accurately measured in the process of expropriation? Additionally, how would land be divided and allocated to ensure the mandate of equitable ownership? Assuming that the land will be used for agriculture, which tends to the industrialization of food production, will the government use this in the global sphere with respect to comparative advantage and will this local market be protected?

These are all important questions that follow the Bill that has been passed. In light of the above, we should ask which groups are going to benefit from this reform? No framework will have the ability to prevent shortcomings in the process of reform. Thus, the real question is whether South Africa is able to take into account the intersectionality of land reform and plan accordingly.

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