A Short Note on the Looming Land Restitution Crisis

The land reform challenge in South Africa involves many issues: land restitution, intended to redress the loss of land by black communities and individuals since 1913; land redistribution by the state to black South Africans to change the skewed pattern of land ownership; and tenure reform. In recent months the issue of expropriation without compensation has hogged the headlines. But this debate has pushed other critical dimensions of land reform into the background. One of the most important is the looming deadline for decisions on land restitution. Ten years ago CDE recommended that the resolution of the restitution backlog should be the first priority for successful land reform because it lay at the root of so many other problems in virtually all regions of the country. Sadly this advice and the offer of support from the business community were not accepted by government. Since then the situation has deteriorated, considerably.