The Land Question, a litmus test for democratic South Africa

The Land Question, a litmus test for democratic South Africa

The land question remains and will for generations to come define relations in our society particularly between blacks and whites and the general population. The compromise reached at the negotiating table needs to be revisited in order to hammer out a satisfactory outcome. The current contending views form but one part of the whole question. In the end fragmenting ownership will deepen the already simmering tensions. It is therefore critically important for the people through parliamentary representation to return the land to the ownership of the state as a starting point.

The restrictions of any sort to curb open debate on this important question relating to the future of the country will not serve to induce agreement by default. The emotiveness of the land question bears testimony to the correctness of working to reach an inclusive resolution. It is therefore necessary that the governing elite should not abrogate correctness to themselves in the hope that the people will have to understand their all-encompassing wisdom.  That parliament is seized with the processing of a review through consultation with the people raises a sign of hope that in the end this important matter will be resolved with the express endorsement of the people.

The history of South Africa is obviously replete with stories of both joy and sorrow and therefore any attempt to limit opportunities by not unlocking the key issue of the land question will not sustain. As a result public representatives in concert with the people they represent should work tirelessly to ensure that a balanced resolution is reached. Without enumerating several of the sorrowful and joyous sides of the historical story it is necessary for all involved to understand that land is key and central to the betterment of the lives of the people. Academically, the debate on this matter can go on indefinitely without a tangible resolution. A balanced resolution can only be sustained through the approval of the people guided by the supremacy of the constitution.

In this regard, we need therefore to move beyond the compromise entered into at the negotiating table that brought about democratic South Africa. Limiting the debate again to 1963 – 1998 will make the process more arduous and unnecessarily unfaithful and unending. All affected parties should bear in mind that a balanced resolution will harness and consolidate the country’s democratization process. The adoption of the constitution by the Constitutional Assembly and its certification by the Constitutional Court as the apex forum heralded a new beginning in the rebuilding of the country. The instrumentality of the constitution provides for an unfettered passage in the processing of the transformation the country so dearly yearns and to ensure that all socio-economic issues are fully addressed.

Therefore, opposition to this transformation process would always be expected especially on the land question. The reviewing of section 25 of the constitution is part of the wider scope of this transformation. As with the abolition of capital punishment which was hotly contested and opposed especially by proponents of the apartheid regime, the constitutionalism of the country should find it necessary to resolve the land question. Beneficiaries of the former apartheid government should find reason to understand the historical imperatives, align themselves with the new dispensation in order to help transform the country and to heal the wounds of the past. Democratic South Africa deserve better and the constitution enjoins all citizens to a solid foundation of transforming it into a better country. As a people we should strive to lay a reliable path for the good of the current generation and posterity thereby.

No one should be threatened by the willful desire of the constitution to meet the tenets of Ubuntu through co-existence. The land is therefore an important determinant as sharing it will bring about a lasting peace for now and forever. The use of land is an important aspect of the creation of sustainable livelihoods and if it is not correctly used as it is the case now will result in the depletion of the critical natural resources. These resources embedded in the land should therefore serve to better the lives of all the citizens. Land allocation for the purposes of development should therefore be returned to the jurisdiction and authority of the state. This will enhance proper use and protection of endangered species both the flora and the fauna. It will also provide for the equal distribution of the wealth through beneficiation.

In the end the land should belong to the people under the authority of the state. Whereas, there are inherent historical challenges pertaining to the ownership of land it is necessary for the people to constitutionally decide on the best way to deal with their dignity through a balanced redress. The traditional leadership is therefore an important partner on this project of nation building. Democratic South Africa will obviously be over-stretched by the dynamism of the land question debate but in the end it should be able to bring about a lasting solution. Such a solution will go a long in bringing about peace and prosperity.

As we debate this important matter of land restoration we need to look back and remember the protracted struggle that delivered the democracy we enjoy today. The massive contribution made by eminent jurists who worked tirelessly in defence of the persecuted and the downtrodden. The great warrior kings and queens who defied the yoke of the oppressors. The masses of the people of South Africa who braved the storms in support of the struggle against tyranny. The international community that provided the necessary support to our struggle. The many women and men who paid the ultimate price in pursuit of the struggle. And the many formations and organizations that offered their support.

All of the above made it possible for our country to produce the constitution we are so proud of and which we use as an instrument with a human face. It is therefore very encouraging that our parliament is attending to this important matter under the supervision of the constitution. At last our country will be able to find a lasting solution to the land question and this will make it possible for the people to find the justice they so dearly deserve. It is equally pleasing to note that the people are again very much involved in the debate. Access to land means an unfettered passage to prosperity, unity, peace and justice for all.


Goldrick Mafologela

015 0040 430

Politics & Governance


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One Comment

  1. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don’t know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

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