Low budget allocation for land reform remains an obstacle to achieving South Africa’s land reform vision


Low budget allocation for land reform remains an obstacle to achieving South Africa’s land reform vision

On 21 February 2024, the Minister of Finance tabled the national budget for the 2024/25 financial year. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has been allocated 1.4% of the budget, which is insufficient to achieve equitable land redistribution.

In the 2023/24 financial year, the allocation to the national DALRRD was R17.2 billion. For 2024/25, the allocation decreased to R16.7 billion, amounting to a decrease of R546 million.

The current allocation is insufficient to address the needs of the entire land reform agenda (restitution, redistribution, and security of tenure). Land reform has been stagnating since 1994 due to poor policies and continuously decreasing budget allocations. If the current funding model for land reform remains, South Africa’s vision for equitable access to land will never be achieved. The budget for land reform must correspond to the political promise to prioritise equitable access to land in terms of Section 25 of the Constitution.

According to the Estimates of National Expenditure, “Cabinet has approved reductions to the department’s budget amounting to R4.3 billion over the MTEF period. This includes a R1.8 billion reduction in funding for the restitution discretionary grant, and a R387.5 million reduction in transfers to the agricultural land holding account. As a result, the number of land claims to be settled is expected to decrease from 459 in 2023/24 to 446 in 2026/27, while the number farmers supported through the land development support programme is expected to decrease from 66 in 2023/24 to 27 in 2026/27.”

Land redistribution and tenure reform has been cut from R930.1 million in 2023/2024 to R849.2 million in 2024/2025. Whilst the budget for restitution was cut from R3.7 billion in 2022/2023 to R3.4 billion in 2024/2025.

According to Parliament’s High Level Panel on the Assessment of Key Legislation report, at the current rate of processing restitution claims, it is estimated that it will take 709 years to process all outstanding claims. This is unacceptable. Further, land administration entities such as CPAs and Community Development Trust’s have continuously failed to meaningfully deal with land in a manner that will benefit communities due to a lack of state support. State agencies and the land claims commission must be capacitated and strengthened to assist communities when they receive land.

The low budget allocation toward land reform is inadequate to address poverty and inequality by effectively redistributing land, providing security of tenure, processing land claims and to provide communities with support after they obtain land. These measures must be adequately resourced to achieve land reform goals and the vision under sections 25(5) to (9) of the Constitution.



Contact Puleng Mosia at +2763 001 4333 or Ru du Toit on +2779 990 2494.

The Legal Resources Centre is an independent public interest law centre with offices throughout South Africa. We work with partners and marginalised communities to harness the power of the law to promote social justice, fight for equality and realise the human rights enshrined in the South African Constitution.