More than two decades after the dawn of democracy, government still does not trust the black people of the country enough to give them the title deeds to property, according to political analyst Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Mkhabela, who was one of the panelists at the Nation in Conversation event at the Nampo Harvest Day in Bothaville, Free State, said: “Post-1994, the government does not trust black people. They cannot give them title deeds. Black people were damned then and are still damned now in a different way… The government wants to babysit people.

“There is a perception that if government gives a black person a title deed, they might sell the land, or if it is a RDP house, they will sell it and go and queue for another one. The government needs to move away from not trusting people.”

He said transformation was an imperative.

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“Conversations need to take place on how we can move forward without undermining each other. Black people need to be given their sense of agency back. They must feel that they can take back control of their lives,” he said.

Another political analyst, Prince Mashele, said at the sidelines of the event that if the problems were not addressed, it could lead to land grabs, like those experienced in Zimbabwe.

“If you were to grow the sector, involve black people in the level of ownership – in terms of skilled labour and so on – black people will realise that they own the sector,” he said in response to a panel discussion on the true effects of land grabs without compensation, which was facilitated by 702’s Bruce Whitfield.

“Black people feel that they don’t own the sector, which is why it is very easy for opportunistic politicians to tell them that they want to take land from white people and give it to them.

“We can get to a ‘Zimbabwe’ situation if we don’t address the challenges.”

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DA Chief Whip John Steenhuisen said that South Africa had a long way to go before it could implement meaningful and effective land transformation.

“I do not think that the government’s land reform programme has yielded the successes that it should have – in fact, we have seen many failures by government. Those land reform projects that are ironically working the best are those that are in partnership and business with emerging farmers,” Steenhuisen said on the sidelines of the event.

“Government should be looking at a partnership model, instead of looking at expropriating and trying to take land away. It should look at how we can create successful farming communities and successful black farmers in South Africa and maintain food security.

“Government’s rhetoric – that we are seeing from politicians lately – is dangerous. I do not think that it is helping the situation. In fact, I think it is going to make things worse.

“What we need is cool heads and a stable hand to make sure that we effect proper land restitution and reform in South Africa and achieve the best results for all South Africans.”

He said he believed that the government was failing in many respects when it came to the issue of land.

“One of the most important things is the land title deed. Many emerging black farmers, particularly in the former homelands, are crying out to be given a tenure so that they can use the title deed on that land, so that they can leverage finances to expand from subsistence to commercial farming.”

He said that was an easy way for government to start the process.

“Let us start giving people title deeds – government owns most of this land anyway.”

– News24 Wire