Mpumalanga’s economy bears the brunt of dodgy land claims

By Bosman Grobler MPL, Spokesperson on Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs:

The DA in Mpumalanga welcomes the court order instructing Rural Development and Land Reform Minister, Gugile Nkwinti, to take back land that was given to a controversial trust and to review the claim.

The validity of the Ndwandwa Community Trust Claim which involved 105 farms worth R51 million in the Badplaas area has been questioned since it was instituted more than 10 years ago. This claim saw farms being transferred to the Trust amid allegations of fake beneficiaries and hugely inflated land prices.

During the time that this land claim was filed, current Mpumalanga Premier, David Mabuza, was the MEC for Agriculture in the province. Although his office has denied his involvement in this land claim, his name continued to come up.

As MEC, Mabuza, should have been able to see the discrepancies with the valuation of the land and prevent the government from being duped into purchasing overpriced land.

It is concerning that over the past few years almost every dodgy land deal that has surfaced in the province has made reference to Premier Mabuza’s involvement.

Corruption within the agriculture and land administration sector has marred the legitimate plight of South Africans to receive their rightful compensation after they were displaced by the apartheid government.

Dodgy land deals are detrimental to the economy of the province and the country because all too often;

  • Land that was productive is left fallow and no longer productive;
  • Agricultural infrastructure gets stripped and sold for its scrap value;
  • Thousands of people who are employed in tourism or agriculture lose their jobs;
  • Opportunities to create employment vanish as planned projects fail.

This once again shows that the current government has little regard for the thousands of skilled people sitting without employment.

By rooting out the seeds of corruption and making meaningful investments in sectors that are known to provide employment for the majority of rural dwellers, the DA can alleviate poverty and create much needed jobs.

The DA calls for the release of the report on the forensic investigation into this land deal that was instituted by former Land Affairs Minister, Thoko Didiza. We believe that this report holds the key to exposing those involved in the scam and ensuring that they take accountability for their actions.

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Collaboration needed to drive land reform

This morning (27 October 2015), Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, addressed the West Coast Agricultural Summit, where he stressed the need for partnerships to drive land reform successes. It is estimated that over R2 billion would be needed annually to fund the land reform targets set by the National Development Plan.

Please see Minister Winde’s address below:

Accelerating the pace of transformation in the agricultural sector is one of my foremost priorities.

Since 2009, the Western Cape Government has spent close to a half a billion rand on land reform and empowerment projects.

An independent assessment found that over 60% of these projects were successful.

Over the next five years we will work to ensure a 70 per cent success rate of all land reform projects in our province.

The Farmer Support and Development Programme will receive R256.9 million in this financial year to help new farmers build successful agri-businesses.

This funding will be used to deliver a full suite of post-settlement support services to land reform beneficiaries, equipping them with the skills they need to run successful operations.

We also aim to support 4 600 farmers with advice to take their enterprises to the next level.

Government, in collaboration with the private sector, must ensure we give beneficiaries the best chance of success.

Successful land reform can only happen through collaboration, and meaningful partnerships will be critical in delivering the targets we have set.

To this end, we are participating in all of the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s District Land Committees.

The National Development Plan has set a target of 20% transfer of agricultural land to previously disadvantaged South Africans by 2030, a goal which we are determined to contribute towards.

Research conducted by the Department of Agriculture revealed that in the Western Cape alone, a minimum amount of R2.16 billion per year over the next 15 years would be needed to achieve the NDP’s land transfer targets.

We also know that government is facing increasing fiscal pressure and this is why we need innovative approaches to drive land reform projects.

The only way we will achieve the NDP targets is through a collaborative approach.

I want to urge all of our partners to work together to escalate the number of land reform projects in our province, as well as improve their rate of success.

We are determined to see that young and black farmers receive the boost they need to be a part of the growth story of this sector.

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DA debates illegal land occupation and evictions

The following speeches were delivered in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature today by the DA’s Fred Nel MPL, Lebo More MPL, Michele Clarke MPL, and Mervyn Cirota MPL, during debates on the motion of the Gauteng Provincial Governments application of the Prevention of Illegal Eviction from Unlawful Occupation of Land Act.

Speech by
Fred Nel MPL

“The Constitution must guide land access”

  • The property ownership issue in South Africa is a complex one. There is a major need to empower those South Africans who were disadvantaged under apartheid by being prevented from owning property.
  • Scores of poor and homeless South Africans seeking a better life in Gauteng are exploited by unscrupulous criminals who illegally sell and rent property to them.
  • There are victims on both sides of the property divide who need to be cared for. But in order to do so government, all three spheres of it, needs to play a constructive role and stop dragging its feet in dealing with property ownership issues.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by

Lebo More MPL

“Housing needs are human needs”

  • It is the duty of government to provide fair access for all South Africans to realise the freedom which secure housing provides.
  • Evictions, if there is no alternative, must take place with the utmost respect for people and the rule of law.
  • I call on the municipalities and provincial government in Gauteng to respect and treat people with the fairness and dignity that they deserve

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by

Michele Clarke MPL

“Evictions: A symptom of failed policy”

  • Illegal occupation and evictions reflect the deep rooted societal inequalities that remain prevalent 21 years in to our hard won democracy.
  • A fundamental failing of this administration has been its inability to provide not just housing, but housing that seeks to redress the shortcomings of Apartheid spatial planning – if anything, it has perpetuated its legacy.
  • This administration, as part of a legislative institution must not see itself beyond the law. It must endeavour to act in accordance with the law, so as to afford people the rights and dignity befitting of them as citizens of this province.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by

Mervyn Cirota MPL

“Residents treated inhumanely”

  • Although the DA recognises and supports the inalienable right of property owners to security of land tenure and rejects illegal squatting and land invasions the DA believes that more humane measures can be applied when evicting residents and agrees that special steps can and must be taken to secure accommodation for those who are destitute.
  • There have been numerous reports of land invaders being forcibly removed off state and private land in circumstances where if alternative accommodation had been supplied timeously, the need for inhumane intervention could have been prevented.

The full speech can be obtained here.

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To encourage land invasion is to invite humanitarian disaster

By Andrew Louw, MPL, DA Provincial Leader in the Northern Cape:

The Democratic Alliance believes that all residents are entitled to safe houses in secure communities. Illegal construction is not the proper way to address the housing need in the province. The Democratic Alliance also believes that, as a result of the slow delivery of houses in the province, communities become despondent and resort to taking the law into their own hands.

We condemn the shocking and reckless utterances made by Dennis Pienaar, the councilor for Ward 30 in Sol Plaatje Local Municipality.

As a ward councillor, Mr. Pienaar does not have a discretion to hand over plots for housing.

To encourage land invasions and the illegal building of houses is to invite a humanitarian disaster. The undeniably, unacceptably slow pace of housing delivery in Jacksonville cannot be solved by creating further problems. Municipalities are meant to embark on a process of spatial planning which allows for carefully considered development, including the delivery of houses once there is adequate bulk infrastructure.

In this instance, however, Mr. Pienaar is throwing all caution to the wind.

How many of the sites in Jacksonville are serviced? How many of the residents will have access to clean water and adequate sanitation? How many outbreaks of water-borne diseases will occur because of poor water supply and a lack of sanitation?

If the street grid is not laid out properly and there is neither street names nor numbers, how will fire trucks and ambulances be able to respond to emergency calls? Each year, a number of fires claim the lives of babies, toddlers and the elderly. This year was no exception.

Recently, a high school learner in Lerato Park passed away after waiting more than three hours for an ambulance to respond. Will Mr.

Pienaar take personal responsibility for any tragedy that may occur if emergency personnel cannot get to those in need in time?

The possibility also exists that members from communities outside Jacksonville will erect homes on vacant plots. This could create friction. Since April this year, Jacksonville has been something of a hotspot for service delivery protests. We need to restore calm to the community and not incite further unrest.

We call on the Sol Plaatje municipality and the party that Mr. Pienaar represents to bring him to task for his reckless words.

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DA-led Western Cape Best Performer in Land Reform for a reason

By Beverley Schäfer MPP, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture:

The Western Cape is the best performing Province in Land Reform as confirmed by the Deputy Minister of Land Reform, Mcebisi Skwatsha. The DA welcomes this admission by the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform, but it is disingenuous to say that our remark on land reform is misleading. We do not need cheap politicking on an issue at the heart of redressing the injustices of the past. Land reform requires government to take co-operative governance seriously, and we should learn from our successes and replicate them across the country.

I therefore invite the Deputy Minister to engage with Standing Committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism and Agriculture in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, so that we can discuss how the rest of the country can replicate the successes of the Western Cape.

Deputy Minister Skwatsha’s own statistics shows why the Western Cape is the best performer in all parts of land reform, with a national failure rate of 92% of land reform projects compared to 62% success rate in the Western Cape. The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform did not help the Western Cape to achieve this success when they attacked our successful share equity model and recently placed a moratorium on it.

On a national level, there seems to be policy and legislative confusion which is hampering successful implementation of land reform. One example would be the proposed land caps, as described in the Regulations of Land Holding Bill 2015, which, if implemented, will see large commercial farms over a certain size being divided and the surplus land made available for land reform. The Preservation on Development on Agricultural Land Bill from 2015 states that high potential agricultural land cannot be subdivided. The Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform therefore completely contradicts itself in two different bills released the same year.

The Western Cape Government has by far the highest success rate in all three components to land reform: redistribution, tenure reform and restitution. While national government plays a key role in land reform, so too does Provincial and Local Government. Land reform requires support from all three layers of government.

We ask the Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform, why land reform is succeeding in the Western Cape but not in other parts of the country? The answer is simply innovative solutions, and an active commitment to cooperative governance beyond narrow ideological frames.

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DA does not support Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Budget Vote

By Veliswa Mvenya (MPL), DA Provincial Chairperson:

To listen to a voice clip in English, please click here.

To listen to a voice clip in Xhosa, please click here.

The DA cannot support the budget that will see the Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency, as an implementing agency of the Department, unable to operate. This agency is responsible for rural development in other departments as well. Its budget has been cut by 28% but the activities have been increased.

Thirty-eight percent of its activities are unfunded. The department is also top heavy with personnel.

The allocation to Fort Cox College despite its well-known infrastructure challenges has also been decreased. This institution is expected to address the shortage of skills in the agricultural field.

The Eastern Cape Province is heavily dependent on agriculture for food security and its rural economic development.

This budget does not create opportunities for agricultural potential that the people of this province deserve. We cannot afford to support a budget that will undermine agricultural development in this province.

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Our province needs solutions on land ownership challenges

Democratic Alliance Debate on ANC Motion by Francois Rodgers, MPL, Member of the DA Caucus in the KZN Legislature:

Today’s debate should not be based on what ‘Joe Soap’ believes is in the interest of agrarian and land reform.  It should be on solutions to land ownership challenges in KZN.

The abhorrent apartheid legislation regulating land ownership, such as the 1913 Native Land Act, the 1936 Native Trust and Land Act, the 1943 Asiatic land Tenure, the 1946 Indian Representation Act and the 1950 Group Area Act still clearly impact on land ownership in South Africa.  Until this addressed and corrected, as a nation, we will continue to look behind us at the expense of those who suffered through unjust legislation.

The DA believes that effective land reform is a moral and political imperative. While it is fundamental to redress the injustices of the past it is also key to remember that land ownership should not and cannot be based purely on agrarian land.  With the exception of restitution initiatives, land reform in South Africa has primarily focused on the redistribution of agricultural land in rural areas.  South Africa is however an urbanising society.

According to United Nations Development Programme data, the percentage of the population living in urban areas increased from 52% in 1990 to almost 62% in 2010 and is likely to increase. Research indicates that only 9% of previously land disposed communities who are currently not farmers have aspirations to enter the agricultural industry.  Land aspirations are most often for urban and housing opportunities.

Approximately 21 million South Africans live on 17% of the countries farmland, yet the majority of our people do not enjoy security of tenure, meaning they are unable to use their land for economic value.

It is important to analyse the achievements in addressing the injustices of the past since the dawn of democracy under ANC rule.  Land reform failures in the past 21 years represent a lost opportunity to empower a pool of South Africans for economic participation.

  • In terms of land restitution, 77 149 of the 79 696 initial claims has been processed. The total cost of the programme to date is R16 billion, of which R10 billion was used for land acquisition and R6 billion paid out as financial compensation to claimants.  A total of 71 292 or 92% of claimants preferred financial compensation over land restoration.
  • Between 1994 and January 2013, 4 813 farms, with a total size of 4.12 million ha, were transferred through redistribution programmes at a cost to the state of R12.9 billion. The Centre For Development has shown that land transfers through private land transactions is up to five times higher than through state programmes.
  • Government’s focus in terms of tenure reform has been mainly on securing tenure rights of farm workers while the land rights of citizens living in communal land areas remain fundamentally insecure.

The constitutional court nullified the Communal Land Rights Act in 2010 and no forthcoming policy alternative or legislative frameworks are forthcoming. The DA supports the National Planning commission comments that in terms of the NDP, there is insufficient tenure security for emerging farmers in communal areas as a “major risk” to agriculture expansion and the objective of building inclusive rural economies.

Agricultural economist Nick Vink estimates that the total sum spent by government on land reform is close to R60 billion, with an additional R14 billion budgeted for this purpose over the medium term.  According to Vink this should have been enough to purchase 58% of productive agricultural land in South Africa.

There must be consensus then that the failure rate of land reform projects in South Africa is unacceptably high.  Even the minister of Rural Development and Land Reform has put the failure rate at 90%.

The South African institute of Race Relations states that 8 out of 10 land reform projects have failed while a 2005 University of Pretoria study showed that close on a quarter of farms transferred have had no production since the new owners took transfer.

The ANC has contributed to land reform failures through a policy approach that has not prioritised effective agriculture enterprise on land redistribution through the reform programme, the legislative vacuum around communal land ownership, a land reform Green Paper that does not address key land reform challenges and inconsistency between its rhetoric statements on land and the practical proposals outlined in the NDP.

The DA would make 4 substantial interventions in land reform to achieve much needed change;

  • Farm workers must become farm owners through the NDP’s approach to Equity Schemes. This means the formation of district committees to identify suitable land, purchase of 50% for the workers, encouragement of 50% investment from existing and experienced farmers and ensuring affordable financing and development models are in place
  • By releasing 17 million hectares of communal land in South Africa for reform purposes and distinguishing between the administrative duties of chiefs and their direct role in the allocation of land use rights in communal areas
  • The redistribution of state owned land through the process of getting the Department of Land reform functioning effectively, free of corruption and with appropriately trained staff
  • Substantial increases in support to emerging farmers.

While land and agrarian reform is vital to address the historical challenges inherited, food sustainability must be at the forefront of any policy.  To cap commercial farmers to 12 000 ha is not only short sighted.  It will ultimately stunt investment and jobs, restrict and reduce growth in the sector, negatively impact on Share Equity Schemes, go against global trends and ultimately ignore the real issue of creating successful farmers.

Finally let it not be forgotten that the constitution is unambiguous in its protection of the rule of law, the right to due process and the right to private land ownership.

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Budget vote speech: Agriculture

By Jacques Smalle DA MPL:

The following speech was delivered by Jacques Smalle DA MPL, to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature on 28 May 2015 during the Debate on the 2015 Budget of the Department of Agriculture.

THE ANC WANTS LAND REFORM TO FAIL

Madam Speaker,

The Honorable MEC wants no piece of land  to lie fallow because this will be akin to casting seed on arid ground.Indeed an attainable vision in the HonorableMEC’s budget speech if the department has the political will to deliver.

However, Limpopo’s Agriculture’s current state is better described by ANC cader Tito Mboweni when he tweeted recently“Most of the farms we returned to communities are today un-farmed. We rely on old commercial farms for our food, yet we do not support them”

The truth is, the ANC wants land reform to fail so that government can ultimately become the owners.

And make no mistake madam speaker –land reform IS failing in Limpopo.

Honorable MEC: Did you yourself have ANY input in the Limpopo Development plan which was never discussed or presented at any committees of this Legislature?

Do you know that the specifics for Agriculture is set out in only 2 pages yet Agriculture is  2ndonly after mining in income generation in the province?

Let us unpack the four 5year objectives:

1)       To increase productive land owned by previously disadvantaged people from 11,5% to 20% in 2019,means that the FetsaTlala and IllimaLetsema and RESIS support programmes must work optimally.

During the previous financial year, only 48% of the targeted hectares were ploughed.The DA also questions the costly R10 000 that the taxpayer pays per hectare to plough the fields of subsistence farmers.Robert Makhubethu, a subsistence farmer in the Sekhukune district received 2 hectares  on which to farm. On The FetsaTlala programme only 1 hectare gets ploughed, regardless of the size of your farm and a bag of seeds gets delivered.

No soil preparation, irrigation or education is provided. The farmers in Sekhukune refer to the project as TlisaTlala which means “bring hunger and starvation”.

2)       To ensure that by 2019 7,2 million hectares will have been transferred (as compared to 4 million in 2013). There is currently 742 outstanding land claims in Limpopo and 22 will be finalised this financial year, if an average of 25 claims gets finalised each year the outstanding claims will be finalised in 2045.

3)       Reduce the households vulnerable to hunger from 11,5% in 2011 to 9,5% in 2019. With the way FetsaTlala is managed, this worthy objective remains a pipe dream.

4)       Reduce rural unemployment from the current staggering 49% to less than 40% in 2019. This calculates to 106996 jobs which is 21399 jobs per year. The Honourable MEC indicated in her budget speech that the department will create 5000 jobs for the different programmes and with the R5 million EPWP grant.This target falls 16399 jobs short of the target in the LDP

Where the DA governs a conducive political environment allows farmers to create jobs.

Currently the caps on agricultural land, the looming expropriation bill, minimum wage and the regional political instability caused by the xenophobic attacks are challenges in agricultural job creation

The DA opposes any caps on agricultural land ownership as it will cap investment and job creation. This will preclude investment across the sector, including in black-owned agri-businesses that have grown beyond a certain point.

The DA’s approach to land reform:

  • Identifies with the NDP
  • States that the restitution and land reform process have been too slow.
  • There has been insufficient support for reform and restitution beneficiaries to build a livelihood on land
  • Money allocated to land reform has not been used effectively. The Makgoba tea estate here is a shining example of wasteful expenditure and lack of accountability of the community in who the land is vested.
  • Less than 10% of land has been transferred under the ANC. The DA believes that ownership must vest in those who work the land in order to provide financial security
  • South Africa needs a fresh approach with the private sector, commercial farmers, universities collaborate with government to make a success of land reform, which is ultimately critical for food security in South Africa

The DA welcomes the establishment of the advisory council and can but hope that the advice will be implemented into the programmes to make them more effective.

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DA calls on minister to keep promises to Maremane CPA

By Advocate Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA constituency head for Postmasburg:

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Minister for Mineral Resources to keep his promises to the Maremane Communal Property Association. We also call on the Minister for Rural Development and Land Reform to appoint a facilitator to help the Maremane CPA to comply with all aspects of the Communal Property Association Act.

The Maremane CPA has approached the Minister for Mineral Resources in March to request assistance with a company that has been mining on land owned by the CPA since 2007. The minister has promised to set up a committee to investigate the complaints. Nothing seems to have happened since.

The Maremane CPA suspects that collusion between the company and the department of Mineral Resources is the reason for the minister’s failure to take their complaints to heart.

It is clear that the Maremane CPA requires assistance from the department of Rural Development and Land Reform to operate to the benefit of the community. The term of the executive committee has expired and a new executive committee needs to be re-elected. Due to ongoing struggles between the executive committee members, no annual general meetings have been held for the past three years.

We will be driving this issue on behalf of the community. We have escalated the issue to our national counterparts and we will be monitoring any further developments in this matter.

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Illegal EFF land grabs an obstacle to land reform and development

Roy Jankielsohn

Leader of the Official Opposition in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The DA condemns the EFF for persisting with its illegal occupation of land programme under the banner of land reform. Land is an extremely emotive issue and should not be exploited for political gain and expediency.

We will hold Premier Ace Magashule’s government to its promises that no illegal land grabs in the Free State will be tolerated.

The EFF unashamedly exploit the desperation of the poor and the destitute in order to advance its own selfish party political agenda. It is reported that the EFF wilfully encouraged landless and destitute people to illegally occupy land in the Mangaung Metro with scant regard for the consequences that may follow.

It is unfortunate the EFF is using the poor and destitute as political fodder.

The behaviour by the EFF undermines the already delayed land reform process. It slows down housing developments and further extends the delays of the rollout of housing opportunities to beneficiaries already on long waiting lists.

The DA firmly believes that vacant State-owned urban land should be unlocked for developments that will not only address housing shortages, but also serve to integrate our cities in a bid to reverse the effects of Apartheid-era spatial planning.

The ANC’s approach to land reform has failed. The EFF’s approach to land reform is utterly destructive and will bring nothing but misery to an already desperate group of people within our society.

The DA is the only party with the policies and plans that will successfully address the land question in South Africa. Where we govern in the Western Cape the DA promotes land reform that empowers beneficiaries and the programmes serves to promote economic development resulting in job creation.

The land issue must be addressed in a manner that is rational and constitutional. Any other way, like the illegal occupation land, will only serve to create new injustices, extend suffering and delay true land reform.

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