In April 2019, the Nelson Mandela Foundation commissioned a series of papers on urban land reform. Their aim was to inform debate about and propose a feasible approach to urban land reform which could, in the near future, be implemented. In line with this, SERI authored two papers on urban land reform and urban land redistribution. SERI has recently published summary reports of the papers submitted to the Nelson Mandela Foundation and will be published at a later stage.

The paper on urban land reform adopts Section 25(6)2 and Sections 26 (1), (2) and (3)3 of the Constitution as its starting points. Shortly after the Constitution was enacted, a set of tenure security laws were enacted to give immediate effect to Section 25(6), pending the development of legislation providing permanent, positive rights.4 The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (the PIE Act), which gave effect to section 26(3), is one of these laws. The long-term legislation has not yet been developed.

 The paper on urban land redistribution adopts the redistribution clause in section 25 (5) of the Constitution as its starting point: “the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.” On this basis SERI argues, in line with the Presidential Advisory Panel and High-Level Panel reports, that a law should be developed and enacted which gives effect to section 25(5) and that the in order to operationalise the approach we propose a process for fine-tuning urban equitable access principles, the main legislative measure (the Framework Act) and the policy measures (the various programmes). 

  • Download the summary report on urban land reform here
  • Download the summary report on urban land redistribution here.
  • Read a SERI op-ed with recommendations for a possible urban land reform programme here.


Urban Land PaperScreenshot 2020 04 09 at 17.20.25   Urban Land Paper 2