Carol Paton Editor at Large

The African Farmers Association of SA said last week that it supported the ANC’s position on the expropriation of land without compensation in cases where, for instance, land was unutilised. But, it added, black farmers wanted to own their land and hold the title deed. It was strongly opposed to land reform policy as it stands, in which they are made perpetual tenants of the state. The anger of black farmers over the title-deed issue highlights a little-known and quite astonishing fact. While one of the pillars of the Constitution for building a new society was to give those who had been denied security of tenure through past discrimination inalienable rights to property, in the past 10 years the government has quietly ditched this aspiration, replacing it with a leasehold system not that different from the tenure system for black people under apartheid.

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