So folks, today the review Committee made its recommendation and got everybody talking about land reform in South Africa. It is largely what we expected, but there’s still a long way to go before we know what the amendments are really going to look like. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there, but this is a topic for another day.

Yesterday we wanted to find out what young South Africans want from land reform and tweeted:

“Thinking of YOUNG people’s voice in South Africa. What is your land reform ideal? Think long term — what do you want to see in 20 years or so? Please drop a comment or DM. I will put all comments in the form of an article tomorrow and see if it can be accommodated in policy.”

It was an interesting and interactive process with many responses (comments and direct messages). If we were to summarize, these are the key points:

  • Expropriate with minimal or no compensation where necessary;
  • Tax under-utilised land;
  • Title deeds must be given to communal land (by the way we discussed the nuances around this issue here);
  • Use-it or lose-it approach;
  • Distribute title deeds over state land;
  • Deal with urban housing, including student housing;
  • Cut-red tape and provide support and funding to new farmers;
  • Need to bring new land into the commercial system (communal land) – grow the formal sector;
  • It’s about water and other productive resources, not just land;
  • Ban foreign land ownership;
  • Don’t ignore church land;
  • We have the skills, but need access to land;
  • Consider the effects of climate change & the destruction of ecosystems;
  • Right of First Refusal for the state to buy land;

One message seems clear: people have skills and want the chance to be involved in agriculture and other economic activities, but access to land is required. Some want the land for farming businesses, for housing, student accommodation, restoration of dignity and churches (you might be surprised how much land churches already have…interesting that people still want them to have more).

Overall, there are conflicting views about how land should be acquired – some favour expropriation without compensation and others oppose it, but all agree that property rights are needed to attract investment and growth.

From our side, it seems like young people have good ideas on how land should be acquired but are still not clear on the end goal. When we have gone through this land reform cycle and all is said and done, what should South Africa look like?

— written in collaboration with my Agbiz colleague, Theo Boshoff.

Follow me on Twitter (@WandileSihlobo). E-mail:


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