The politics of land is boiling over, bringing immense dangers but also opportunities. Amending the constitution to allow large-scale confiscation of land without due process could lead to huge disinvestment and declines in production and employment. Rather, we should make land reform a higher priority, give it a larger budget, rethink failing policies and renew the institutions responsible for their implementation. It is clear that new policy frameworks must include a focus on urban land. These must aim to enable sound planning for human settlement and deal with the apartheid geography still evident in our towns and cities. But the largest area of land affected will be rural, and clarity is urgent on who will acquire rural land and for what purposes. The answers are key to determining the degree to which rural land reform can help reduce unemployment, which is arguably our single most intractable problem.

President Cyril Ramaphosa believes that revitalised land reform can und...

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