Thoko Didiza. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Thoko Didiza. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

The cabinet has directed that all ministers, through their respective departments, study the report by the presidential expert advisory panel on land reform and agriculture and its proposed recommendations, minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu has said.

The report is expected to inform government policy on land reform.

In a draft report leaked earlier in 2019, the panel suggested that expropriation of land without compensation could be a tool to address land imbalances, but that it should not necessarily entail a blanket approach, in effect calling for just and equitable compensation in some cases.

The draft report called for the establishment of a “compensation policy” to guide how expropriation without compensation should be implemented. Furthermore, it recommended that a detailed land audit be conducted to determine the ownership and usage of land.

The cabinet recently received the final report from the advisory panel. The details of the final report are due to be released on Sunday, by agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza and the panel. President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed the panel in September 2018 to provide a unified policy perspective on land reform.

“The report makes findings on the current status quo and makes recommendations that will assist in accelerating the work of the government in redressing the historical land distribution imbalances,” Mthembu said during a post-cabinet media briefing in parliament on Thursday.

“The cabinet directed that all ministers, through their respective departments, study the report and its proposed recommendations and revert to the cabinet within two months. The inter-ministerial committee on land reform, chaired by deputy president David Mabuza, will oversee this process.” 

This comes as the debate on expropriation without compensation continues to rage. Late in 2018, the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) adopted a contentious report that called for a constitutional amendment to make it explicit that land expropriation without compensation could be used to address skewed land ownership patterns dating back to the colonial and apartheid eras.

The debate on the issue has polarised the country and spooked investors, with the proposed amendment set to be challenged in court by various stakeholders and political parties. The matter will also feature strongly in parliament in the coming months.