The government is committed to the land reform process, but is concerned that the ‘chaos and anarchy’ perpetrated by land grabs across the country is causing more harm than good.

Deputy president David Mabuza said in a Q&A session in parliament on Tuesday (3 March), that the incitement of violence and lawlessness is the ‘antithesis’ of what South Africa stands for as a constitutional state.

“To discourage unplanned and disorderly occupation and use of land, government has put in place legislative measures that guide planning and land use management decisions at all levels, including local government,” he said.

“The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act designates various land portions for specific use, depending on spatial development priorities for earmarked land in any given locality. Various land uses could range from human settlements, agriculture, social infrastructure, to industrial use.”

Mabuza said that land grabs disrupt orderly and systematic planning and development, including the provision of requisite infrastructure to support land-use decisions.

“As part of discouraging incitement to violence and land grabs, it is critical for municipalities to put in place by-laws to regulate processes for dealing with issues of land access and use in areas under their jurisdiction,” he said.

“Where blatant violations, and incitement of violence and land grabs occur, the law will take its course. You can rest assured of the capacity of our criminal justice system to enforce compliance, in line with our commitment to the rule of law.”

Land expropriation without compensation 

Mabuza’s comments come as the government prepares to hold nationwide public hearings on the Draft Constitution Eighteenth Amendment Bill which will allow for land expropriation without compensation.

An outline published by parliament on Monday shows that the public hearings will begin in KZN and the Free State beginning Wednesday (4 March) and ending in the Western Cape on 5 April.

The deadline for written submissions on the bill was extended until the end of February to give interested parties more time to comment.

However, the process has already hit a snag after the ANC indicated that it does not support the idea of courts being the decision-maker on whether or not the state will pay for the land it expropriates.

Instead, it plans to give this power to the minister of land reform who will be the sole arbiter on land expropriation cases in the country.

Read: Land expropriation will put people’s finances at risk: economists