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PUBLIC LECTURE: The Land Question: What is the Answer?

Venue: Library Auditorium, University of the Western Cape
Date: 2 Aug 2018
Time: 12:30 to 14:30

Presenter: Prof Ruth Hall, PLAAS, UWC

Constitution-blaming has become popular. But society is misspecifying the nature of the problem. Why has South Africa failed so spectacularly to address the demand for access to land, for restitution and for secure tenure rights? I will argue that this is not due to the Constitution, and specifically not due to the 'property clause'. Quite the opposite. Section 25 is a mandate for transformation, but this mandate has been violated and ignored. Rather than scapegoating the Constitution, those who are committed to seeing land reform succeed should focus not on strengthening the powers of the state - indeed, the state can already expropriate without compensation where it wishes to do so - but on strengthening the powers of citizens to hold the state to account. The question is therefore how those who want and need access to land, those who want to return to the land they were dispossessed of, and those who have insecure rights to land, can force a recalcitrant state to uphold their rights. For this reason, new legislation is needed which will define the right of access to land on an equitable basis. Land redistribution must become an enforceable right.

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