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Discuss some land reforms in African countries

      

Discuss some land reforms in African countries

  

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Francis
Ethiopia
Historically, Ethiopia was divided into the northern highlands, which constituted the core of the old Christian kingdom, and the southern highlands, most of which were brought under imperial rule by conquest. In the northern regions, the major form of ownership was a type of communal system known as rist. According to this system, all descendants of an individual founder were entitled to a share, and individuals had the right to use a plot of family land. Rist was hereditary, inalienable, and inviolable.
No user of any piece of land could sell his or her share outside the family or mortgage or bequeath his or her share as a gift, as the land belonged not to the individual but to the descent group. Most peasants in the northern highlands held at least some rist land. Absentee landlordism was rare, and landless tenants were estimated at only about 20% of holdings.
On the contrary, in the southern provinces, few farmers owned the land on which they worked. After the conquest, officials divided southern land equally among the state, the church, and the indigenous population. Tenancy in the southern provinces ranged between 65% and 80% of the holdings, and tenant payments to landowners averaged as high as 50% of the produce. In the eastern lowland periphery and the Great Rift Valley, most land were used for grazing. The pastoral social structure is based on a kinship system with strong inter clan connections; grazing and water rights are regulated by custom.
Beginning in the 1950s, the government tried to modernize the agriculture by granting large tracts of traditional grazing lands to large corporations and converting them into large-scale commercial farms. In the north and south, peasant farmers lacked the means to improve production because of the fragmentation of holdings, a lack of credit, and the absence of modern facilities. Particularly in the south, the insecurity of tenure and high rents killed the peasants' incentive to improve production. Further, those attempts by the Imperial government to improve the peasant's title to their land were often met with suspicion. By the mid-1960s, many sectors of Ethiopian society favored land reform.
University students led the land reform movement and campaigned against the government's reluctance to introduce land reform programs and the lack of commitment to integrated rural development.
In 1974, the socialist Derg government rose to power, and on March 4, 1975, the Derg announced its land reform program. The government nationalized rural land without compensation, abolished tenancy, forbade the hiring of wage labor on private farms, ordered all commercial farms to remain under state control, and granted each peasant family so-called "possessing rights" to a plot of land not to exceed ten hectares. The Ethiopian Church lost all its land. Although the Derg gained little respect during its rule, this reform resulted in a rare show of support for the junta.
Tenant farmers in southern Ethiopia welcomed the land reform, but in the northern highlands many people resisted land reform and perceived it as an attack on their rights to rist land. The lowland peripheries were only slightly affected by the reforms.
The land reform destroyed the feudal order; changed landowning patterns, particularly in the south, in favor of peasants and small landowners; and provided the opportunity for peasants to participate in local matters by permitting them to form associations.

Kenya
In the 1960s, President Jomo Kenyatta launched a peaceful land reform program based on "willing buyer-willing seller". It was funded by Britain, the former colonial power.
In 2006, President Mwai Kibaki said it will repossess all land owned by "absentee landlords" in the coastal strip and redistribute it to squatters.

Namibia
Namibia's colonial past had resulted in a situation where about 20% of the population (mostly white settlers) owned about 75 percent of all the land.
In 1990, shortly after Namibia got its independence, its first president Sam Nujoma initiated a plan for land reform, in which land would be redistributed from whites to blacks. legislation passed in September 1994, with a compulsory, compensated approach. The land reform has been slow, mainly because Namibia's constitution only allows land to be bought from farmers willing to sell. Also, the price of land is very high in Namibia, which further complicates the matter.
By 2007, some 12% of the total commercial farmland in the country was taken away from white farmers and given to black citizens.

South Africa
The Natives' Land Act of 1913 "prohibited the establishment of new farming operations, sharecropping or cash rentals by blacks outside of the reserves" where they were forced to live.
In 1991, after a long anti-apartheid struggle lead by the African National Congress, State President F. W. de Klerk declared the repeal of several apartheid rules, particularly: the Population Registration Act, the Group Areas and the Natives' Land Act. A catch-all Abolition of Racially Based Land Measures Act was passed. These measures ensured no one could claim, or be deprived of, any land rights on the basis of race.
In 1994, shortly after the African National Congress came to power in South Africa, it initiated a land reform process focused on three areas: restitution, land tenure reform and land redistribution.
Restitution, where the government compensates (monetary) individuals who had been forcefully removed, has been very unsuccessful and the policy has now shifted to redistribution.
Initially, land was bought from its owners (willing seller) by the government (willing buyer) and redistributed, in order to maintain public confidence in the land market. This system has proved to be very difficult to implement, because many owners do not actually see the land they are purchasing and are not involved in the important decisions made at the beginning of the purchase and negotiation.
In 2000 the South African Government decided to review and change the redistribution and tenure process to a more decentralized and area based planning process. The idea is to have local integrated development plans in 47 districts. This will hopefully mean more community participation and more redistribution taking place, but there are also various concerns and challenges with this system too.

Zimbabwe
By 1979, when Zimbabwe gained independence, 46.5% of the country's arable land was owned by around 6,000 commercial farmers, and white farmers, who made up less than 1% of the population, owned 70% of the best farming land.
As part of the Lancaster House Agreement of 1979, President Robert Mugabe initiated a "willing buyer, willing seller" plan, in which white land-owners were encouraged to sell their lands to the government, with partial funding from Britain. Around 71,000 families (perhaps 500,000 people) settled on 3.5 million hectares of former white-owned land under this programme, which was described by "The Economist" in 1989 as "perhaps the most successful aid programme in Africa".
The 1992 Land Acquisition Act was enacted to speed up the land reform process by removing the "willing seller, willing buyer" clause, limiting the size of farms and introducing a land tax (although the tax was never implemented.) The Act empowered the government to buy land compulsorily for redistribution, and a fair compensation was to be paid for land acquired. Landowners could challenge in court the price set by the acquiring authority. Opposition by landowners increased throughout the period of 1992 to 1997. In the 1990s, less than 1 million hectares (2.47 million acres) were acquired, and fewer than 20,000 families were resettled. Much of the land acquired during what has become known as "phase one" of land reform was of poor quality, according to Human Rights Watch. Only 19 percent of the almost 3.5 million hectares (8.65 million acres) of resettled land was considered prime, or farmable.
In 1997, the new British government, led by Tony Blair, unilaterally stopped funding the "willing buyer, willing seller" land reform programme. Britain's ruling Labour Party felt no obligation to continue paying white farmers compensation.
In 2000, a referendum on constitutional amendments was held. The proposed amendments called for a "fast track" land reform and allowed the government to confiscate white-owned land for redistribution to black farmers without compensation. The motion failed with 55% of participants against the referendum. However, self-styled "war veterans", led by Chenjerai Hunzvi, began invading white owned farms. Those who did not leave voluntarily were often tortured and sometimes killed. On 6 April 2000, Parliament pushed through an amendment, taken word for word from the draft constitution that was rejected by voters, allowing the seizure of white-owned farmlands without due reimbursement or payment. In this first wave of farm invasions, a total of 110,000 square kilometres of land had been seized.
Parliament, dominated by Zanu-PF, passed a constitutional amendment, signed into law on 12 September 2005, that nationalized farmland acquired through the "Fast Track" process and deprived original landowners of the right to challenge in court the government's decision to expropriate their land. The Supreme Court of Zimbabwe ruled against legal challenges to this amendment.
During the "fast track", many parcels of land came under the control of people close to the government, as is the case throughout Africa. The several forms of forcible change in management caused a severe drop in production and other economic disruptions.

Egypt
Initially, Egyptian land reform essentially abolished the political influence of major land owners. However, land reform only resulted in the redistribution of about 15% of Egypt's land under cultivation, and by the early 1980s, the effects of land reform in Egypt drew to a halt as the population of Egypt moved away from agriculture. The Egyptian land reform laws were greatly curtailed under Anwar Sadat and eventually abolished.


francis1897 answered the question on January 12, 2023 at 12:17


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