Land Reform in South Africa – Encouraging a moral discourse

“… what seems glaringly missing is the question of the moral demand or rightness of not only changing land access and relationships, but of repairing the hurt, misery, brokenness, and trauma of a people often violently ripped from their land for generations. In a country trying to repair a most odious crime against humanity – which was based largely on land dispossession – why is the question of land seemingly a pragmatic discourse and not a moral discourse?”

Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference 2017

Land reform is a vexing, complex and challenging issue, not just for South Africa, but across the globe.

Unquestionably, there needs to land reform, and also reform of how land is used, to meet the needs of a growing world population and the impact its use, or misuse, can have on the environment.

Specific to South Africa, one hopes and prays that the nation’s black leaders do not opt for a Zimbabwe type solution which, in the end, proved to be disastrous and has lead to increasing hunger and deprivation. Historic bitterness and revenge are not the solution to what requires a negotiated transition through which essential skills are imparted, and justice prevails. In this regard an initiative by the Southern African Catholic Bishop’s Conference (SACBC) is a welcome development.

On 14 March 2017 the SACBC issued a Briefing document based on their own careful and sensitive reflections. They have suggested a model, inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as a mechanism to be used to “deal with the truth regarding issues around land.”

Their document, “Returning land/Restoring dignity” is published in full by the Catholic News Agency for Africa (CNAA).

You can access the full text of this important Briefing Document by clicking here:



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