On the 30 of June 1991, South Africa’s infamous 1913 Land Act was repealed by the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act.
The end of this horrific pre-apartheid law was a milestone in South Africa’s history. However, 26 years later we are still seeking endless answers to what has become known as ‘the land question’ – Who owns the land in South Africa? How is this ownership changing? What are the government’s plans to ensure that land redistribution is realised into productive and sustainable land ownership?
On Friday, 30 June, the anniversary of the signing of the Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act, Right2Know submitted the first in a series of PAIA requests to attempt to shine light on the ever-elusive ‘land question’. R2K has requested the full and unedited data set of the Land Audit, including information on ownership, tenants and occupiers, rights to the land and usage and buildings or improvements on the land. The Audit was done by the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs and resulted in a report that was published by the Department in 2013. The report that was made public gives only a very superficial analysis of the information collected, and leaves the public with even more questions than before. There is no reason that this information should not be made public, so that it can be used to further decision-making, research and mobilisation relating to land ownership in South Africa.
It has been four years since the report was made public, and therefore four years that the government has had this essential information in their hands, and yet South Africans continue to suffer whilst in the dark. Many communities, including small-scale farmers and land occupiers need this information to fight unfair evictions. The recent rhetoric about ‘radical economic transformation’ which is being used to garner political support, particularly on the land question, will remain a pipe dream if this secrecy around landholding continues.
We demand that the Department of Rural Development release this vital information immediately and in full.
We demand that work continues to ensure that information that was missing from the original land audit be included, and that new information be added.
Right2Know stands in solidarity with our partners fighting for land justice in South Africa.