Land Distribution Paradoxes and Dilemmas

Land Distribution Paradoxes and Dilemmas

by Leon Louw The Helen Suzman Foundation, South Africa Oct 2013 “The land question” is seldom a question. Typically it is a slew of dogmas and myths as tenacious as they are erroneous. Virtually every supposed fact about land in South Africa is not just wrong, but so far off the mark as to make the adoption of sound policies virtually impossible. We all know – do we not? – that black land dispossession started precisely 100 years ago with the 1913 Natives Land Act, that blacks had 13% of the land until 1994, that land is economically important, that landless people are condemned to destitution, that current land policy is to redistribute 30% of South Africa’s land to blacks, that apartheid land policy ended in 1994 when blacks were given full “upgraded” land title, that whites own most South African land, that black housing is RDP housing, that black commercial agriculture is a disastrous failure, and so on. We also know that things changed profoundly in 1994, especially regarding “the land question”. Yet, as we shall see, these axioms are all largely or completely false, and, when it comes to land, plus ça change, plus c’est la mème chose (the more things change the more they stay the same). In the emotional land discourse, nefarious motives and ideological agendas tend to be read into whatever corrective facts are cited. Basic facts are perceived, usually with justification, as being political, even racist, rather than informative. Point out, for instance, that land dispossession started long before 1913, or that many blacks who lost land after 1913 have been denied restitution since 1994, and you are advancing a “black” agenda. Note, on the other hand, that “settlers” acquired much land by treaty rather than coercion,...
Delhi govt reworking on properties registration bill

Delhi govt reworking on properties registration bill

Delhi residents will have to wait a little longer to have a digitised and transparent mechanism for registration of properties as planned by the city government to replace the existing archaic system. The Delhi government, which had drafted a bill modelled on the lines of the one existing in European countries for property registration, has been asked by the Centre to include certain provisions of the Land Titling Bill prepared by it in the proposed legislation. “We were asked by the Centre to examine the Land Titling Bill 2010 prepared by the Union Rural Development Ministry before finalising our bill,” Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said. He said the Delhi Government will finalise the new draft of the Delhi Urban Property Registration and Titling Bill within a month. The Government had prepared the bill after detailed discussions with experts and other stake holders for the last three years. The city government decided to introduce a new system of property registration to prevent fraudulent transactions under which an online database of all genuine properties will be put in place to ensure transparency. After clearance from the Centre, the bill will be tabled in Delhi Assembly. “Now we are reworking on it to adjust key features of the central bill. The process will be completed within one month,” Mehta, who is the brain behind the scheme, said. He said under the new system, the government plans to issue unique identification number and title to genuine owners of the properties. Reposted from the Hindustan Times. View the original article...
Environment Ministry Seeking to Restrict Tribal Land Rights

Environment Ministry Seeking to Restrict Tribal Land Rights

The Ministry of Environment and Forest had been very reluctant to accept the idea of tribal land rights. Now, the MoEF is again seeking to assert its claims through an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA), 1976, that will, contrary to the provisions of FRA, ensure that the rights of forest dwellers and tribals are denied in the existing 661 national parks and sanctuaries. About 4% of the land falls under these categories, and many wildlife and environmental groups have been against the Forest Rights Act, which they see as a threat to their domain. The proposed amendment requires district magistrate to recognise the tribal land rights only in those areas where a national park has been created after the enactment of the FRA. For all these decades, the MoEF had unrestrained power over land under its control, and we have seen the continuous decline in wildlife, and degradation of forest. The tiger in the wild is as threatened as it was nearly 40 years ago when project tiger was launched to save the national animal. Rather than recognising the fundamental flaws in their own approach, once again we are witnessing this misguided attempt by the ministry to pit the tribals against the tigers. Here is a link to a relevant news clipping on the proposed amendment to WPA: NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have talked of the importance of implementing the Forest Rights Act in its letter and spirit in the Naxal-effected tribal areas but the Union environment and forests ministry is instead trying to curtail the Act’s provisions. The MoEF has pitched for an...