Finance minister Tito Mboweni put it mildly when he said during his budget speech: "A robust debate on land is taking place in SA." It’s a big understatement, given that the snail-like pace of land reform has galvanised populist politicians, most notably EFF leader Julius Malema. It’s a weak point for the ANC, which, in 1994, promised to transfer 30% of white-owned commercial land into black hands and restore land that was stripped from black South Africans. By 1999, just 1% of that land had been returned. Land reform has been a dismal failure. Not only did the government set aside inadequate amounts to finance the land purchases, it compounded the problem by failing to meaningfully spend what it did have. Last year, the ANC diagnosed the problem of the slow pace of land reform as a lack of funds, rather than incompetence. So it, with the EFF, called for a constitutional amendment to allow for expropriation without compensation. But if the talk turned to expropriation without compen...

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