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Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform on Extension of Security of Tenure Bill of 2015

by Ruth Hall, PLAAS in 2016

We welcome the initiative to amend ESTA, in view of the widespread violations of this law, as well as loopholes in its procedural requirements and weak framing of substantive rights. However, as we will explain, we disagree that the Bill in its current form lives up to the promise of strengthening rights, tightening procedures and strengthening implementation. While there are several limitations in the law itself, especially with regards to procedural safeguards, we argue that the limited effectiveness of ESTA in creating conditions of tenure security for farm workers and farm dwellers is largely due to the shortcomings in implementation, as itemised above. Areas of the Act that need strengthening largely relate to eviction procedures. We further argue that, in order to address the profound and systemic problems with realising the goals of farm tenure security and implementing ESTA fully through reformed institutional arrangements (including new institutions), what is needed is a coherent national policy framework to guide land reform as a whole. Such a framework does not exist.