The problem with trying to make 10 minute YouTube videos about a complex topic like land reform is that you inevitably leave something important on the cutting room floor. In this case, it was my criticism of how the government has handled land reform up to this point. You see, previously disadvantaged South Africans can apply for land grants and, especially in the agricultural sector, the land is changing hands every year.
A farmer I interviewed for a story about hydroponic urban agriculture (here’s a link to a PDF of that story which first appeared in the February 2018 issue of Popular Mechanics South Africa) told me the story of her successful land grant application. Mapaseka Dlamini was vetted by the National Youth Development Agency and given land. Like countless other aspiring young black farmers, the land was handed over without a title deed. She then couldn’t access financing to help set up her operation and the local Co-op was unwilling to assist as well.
What the government needs to do is hand over land to capable farmers along with all ownership rights, including the title deeds. Only then will we realise the true potential of land reform as an economic driver. There’s a lot of blame to be handed around to everyone when it comes to the redistribution of wealth. Government corruption is a massive obstacle to our progress, but it isn’t the only one.
We have a strong Constitution that will help guide us through this process. South Africa is a lawful country that needs a bit more transparency at the top level. Don’t get fooled by the dominant fear-based rhetoric about how we will go the way of Zimbabwe if we pursue land expropriation without compensation. The dialogue is now in out of the hands of the extremist EFF and is being steered by the democratically elected leadership. We will be fine. Hell, we may even be better.