South Africa to lease state land in effort to redress inequality

Plots will be available for 30-year leases, providing they are put to agricultural use, starting later this month,
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In a campaign South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa calls a “national priority”, South Africa plans to lease state land for farming in a bid to redress longstanding racial imbalances.

The program, involving some 700,000 hectares (1.7 million acres) of vacant or underutilised land will also create jobs, he said.

Plots will be available for 30-year leases, providing they are put to agricultural use, starting later this month, according to an announcement last week by the Land Reform department.

The initiative is part of a wider land reform program aimed at fixing disparities caused by decades of apartheid and colonialism during which most of the land was reserved for the minority white population.

Ramaphosa noted that while the state had already sold or leased 8.4 million hectares of land to “previously disadvantaged individuals” between 1994 and 2018, only 10 percent was commercial farmland.

When the ruling African National Congress (ANC) came to power in 1994 on the back of the victorious anti-apartheid struggle, the government pledged to redistribute 30 percent of South Africa’s 60,000 commercial farms to Blacks.

A 2017 study led by former president Kgalema Motlanthe painted the picture of a “slow and ineffective pace of land reform.”

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