Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa chief economist and Land Reform and Agriculture panel advisory member Wandile Sihlobo has argued that land reform is taking place much faster than what is typically reported.
He was addressing a webinar on land reform on Monday.
He said recent data showed that there had been progress on government’s land reform targets, with 17% to 21% of land being administered, despite reports that government had only achieved 9% of its targets.
Sihlobo said although the State had, to a certain extent, been good at acquiring land stands, it had failed to transfer and improve people’s living standards in those areas.
Commenting on the announcement by Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza of 700 000 ha of under-utilised or vacant State land for agricultural use, he said beneficiaries should be given the option to buy those pieces of land after five years, instead of waiting for 30 to 40 years.
Sihlobo said government should assist those who were leasing land, to eventually own it in the long run.
He said it should be done through the land administration policy.
He emphasised that there should be transparency from government on how beneficiaries were selected.
Sihlobo pointed out that it would be advisable that some kind of capital be made available to assist lease owners to ensure that land is used productively.