South Africa: Land Expropriation - Debate Intensifies Around Access to Property in Cities

Johannesburg skyline at night (file photo).

While the debate on land so far has been about rural and agrarian land, the South African Cities Network, through a dialogue on Monday on the role of land expropriation in transforming cities, brought attention to the land in urban centres. By NKATEKO MABASA.

The two missing components in the current debate about land is the "discussion of land in cities" and how it ought to be thought of differently, and the need for "differentiated support" to urban municipalities in achieving housing and settlement goals.

This is the view of Sithole Mbanga, CEO of South African Cities Network (SACN), a network of city municipalities and the organisations they partner with. The network held the first of three dialogues on transforming urban land in Johannesburg on Monday. A second session was held in Port Elizabeth on Tuesday while a third session was to be held in Cape Town on Wednesday.

According to Mbanga, the city should be the focal point in the land debate as it is directly impacted upon by housing and settlement challenges. Land grabs happen because people do not have a place to stay in the areas where there are opportunities for them.

Municipalities, Mbanga said, need support...

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