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Department of Political and International Studies takes a practical look at the question of the land
Department of Political and International Studies takes a practical look at the question of the land
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Department of Political and International Studies takes a practical look at the question of the land

Date Released: Tue, 17 July 2018 11:36 +0200

16 July 2018 marked the commencement of the annual Teach-In event held by the Department of Political and International Studies at Barratt 2. This year, the four-day event focuses of The Land Question with the aim of providing a historical and intellectual discussion to the policy on land redistribution in South Africa.

The first of these was presented by Chief Land Claims Commissioner for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR), Ms Nomfundo Ntloko-Gobodo, who spoke on the successes and failures of land redistribution. It was a beautiful coincidence that Ntloko-Gobodo was speaking in Makhanda so soon after it was named after the Xhosa warrior who fought in the frontier wars for land against British colonisers.

To redress the problems that stemmed from this dispossession and others like it, such as the Glen Gray Act and the Native Land Act, the DRDLR relies on s25 of the Constitution, Ntloko-Gobodo explained. She further went on to clarify that these services were available to people or communities who were dispossessed through laws or actions that were of a racially discriminatory nature after 19 June 1913.

S25 (5) also states that the state must take all reasonable measure within their means to ensure the return of the land to its rightful owners, which answered the question posed Dumisani Manyoga, a first year Political and International Studies student, who was concerned about how the claimants could go about proving their claim without any documented evidence. 

Paraphrasing the section, Ntloko-Gobodo assured attending students that the DRDLR takes the initiative to do the relevant investigations to ensure that the rightful owners have their land returned to them.

On the failures of the return of land to its owners, the Chief Commissioner explained that the DRDLR has noted that the land given back to communities is normally owned under a Communal Property Association, which means that the community owns the land as a whole. This is a problem, because the beneficiaries had their community unit scattered jn different areas during the dispossessions, and therefore no longer know each other or live as a community but upon restitution they are expected to function as one community. This often leads to these estranged communities fighting amongst each other about how to properly use the claimed land.

Another challenge is that once land has been given back to its owners, many do not have the resources to develop the land. To counter this, Ntloko-Gobodo said the DRDLR grants newly reconciled land owners a development grant to assist with land development. The project has shown much success thus far, with many people having their land returned to them. As much as R12 billion has already been spent on land reform.

Teach-In on The Land Question will continue every day until Thursday, 19 July at 13h00 at Barratt 2, and speakers will include:

17 July - Mr Siyabulela Manona, a Land and Rural Development Specialist who will speak on ‘Legal hurdles towards expropriation without compensation’.

18 July - Ms Nolundi Luwaya, the Deputy Director, Land and Accountability Research Centre at the University of Cape Town whose topic is ‘Gender and the land question: traditional authority and apartheid geographies’.

19 July - Former Rhodes student and lecturer, Nelson Mandela University’s Professor Nomalanga Mkhize whose Teach-In session will be on ‘The urban land question: spatial transformation in 21st century Africa and the future’.