An audit by the government on land ownership is a “deeply questionable” source of information and misleading, the South African Institute of Race Relations said on Tuesday.
The ruling African National Congress and the militant opposition Economic Freedom Fighters have stepped up rhetoric around land reforms ahead of next year’s elections, amid rising anger that large tracts of prime agricultural land is still owned by the white minority 24 years after the end of apartheid rule which discriminated against blacks.
The land audit released in November 2017, says white South Africans own 72 percent of privately owned land, while coloureds have 15 percent, Indians five percent and Africans at 4 percent. Farm groups have disputed the data.
“Government’s land audit – widely quoted as a central reference point in the debate around land reform – is a deeply questionable source of information,” the SAIRR said.
“It leaves at least as many questions open as it answers. And the manner in which its information has been presented to the public has been misleading.”
The institute said since 2009 the government had held back from granting title to the beneficiaries of land redistribution and had made no effort to ensure those living on their ancestral land in former homeland areas acquired individual title to their land.
“Quite ironically, the narrative put forward from government on the basis of the land audit is to underplay if not deny the progress it has made in restitution and redistribution efforts – to the tune of some 8.1 million hectares since 1994,” it said.
It said the land audit provided little meaningful basis for discussion as to overall patterns of rural land ownership in the country, and of agricultural land in particular.
– African News Agency (ANA)