Werksmans has unpacked the recommendations made by the Presidential Expert Advisory Panel on Land Reform & Agriculture in a seminar – led by lawyer Bulelwa Mabasa.

A Polity report notes she was the only attorney on the advisory panel appointed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Mabasa said the country needed a ‘revolutionary way of looking at tenure’, which she identified as ‘recognisable rights’ and important in the ability to be legally recognised and legally registrable.

Mabasa said there were a few pieces of legislation that were problematic. These include the Prohibition of Subdivision Act, which prohibits the subdivision of agricultural land.

She said it was a ‘devil’ in practice because it affected a small farm holder with a family farm as much as it affected a huge conglomerate.

She said the Prohibition of Land and Assistance Act was completely at odds with administrative law principles and pointed out that it gave the respective Minister undue powers to designate and to develop land without any transparency.

‘The Minister can develop land for an unidentified group of people. There is no transparency and there are no criteria on who should benefit and it doesn’t satisfy the constitutional master,’ Mabasa explained.

She also noted the Ingonyama Trust Act undermined democratic principles and was a barrier for women, especially after marriage.

She said the country needed a holistic land reform policy, a land framework Bill, a strongly capacitated land rights commission dealing with distribution, and a clear definition of who must be allocated land.

‘Land reform is such an important constitutional imperative. If you don’t deliver anything in this country, at least land reform must be,’ she said.

Full Polity report