EDITORIAL: The promised land lies fallow
While government stirs emotions over expropriation, it is the proud owner of more than 4,000 farms it hasn’t handed to worthy recipients
Government bought the land following successful land claims against these properties, according to Netwerk24. But then it sat on its hands. Former politician Roelf Meyer, now a director of nonprofit body In Transformation Initiative, was quoted as saying it doesn’t make sense to expropriate more farms if government doesn’t have the capacity to transfer to future farmers the farms it has already bought.
It lays bare President Jacob Zuma’s call this year to amend the constitution (and bend ANC policy) to allow government to expropriate land without compensation. Zuma has called 2017 the year of "taking land back to the people".
This goes to the heart of it: aside from rhetoric designed to whip up support for a president with few friends, that promise, like so many others, is just hot air. If it were genuine, he would have prioritised handing over the land.
But, like so much in Zuma’s SA, it is not fulfilling promises that matters — just the promise itself. It’s like a never-ending commission of inquiry after which nothing ever happens.