DA: land grabs not the way to solve housing crisis

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader:

The Democratic Alliance calls on the EFF to desist from illegal conduct. We condemn illegal land grabs. This is not the way to solve the housing crisis in the province. Instead, we need the department of COGHSTA to step up and to improve its housing delivery.

Simply put, the department is building the wrong amount of houses on the wrong soil using the wrong contractors. It needs to set proper targets and manage its finances in such a way that targets can be achieved. In this financial year, the department only wants to build enough houses to solve 3% of the provincial housing backlog. At the rate it is going, it will take the department 33 years to address the current provincial housing backlog, excluding new applicants who qualify for housing. We can all agree that is far too long.

We need value for money when contractors are appointed for housing projects. We need contractors who are appointed on skill and merit, not because of political connections. It must be jobs for professionals and not jobs for pals. In the Lerato Park housing project, houses were built on the wrong soil and in Galeshewe, 84 houses were built without foundations. This is not good enough.

We are one of the provinces that spend the most money on rectifying houses. This wouldn’t be the case if sturdy houses were built in the first place.  In 2014, the department spent R6.9 million on rectifying

32 houses. That is enough money to build 69 new houses from scratch.

The department must deliver houses that don’t fall apart in the first year.

We warn the EFF that land grabs are illegal and that criminal charges will follow if land grabs take place. If any member of the Legislature is involved in illegal land grabs, we will also pursue disciplinary charges through the Legislature. We will not tolerate any lawlessness.

DA moves to stop illegal Tshwane land auctions

Fred Nel MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs:

The land auctions announced by the City of Tshwane municipality to take place tomorrow (24 March 2015) should be stopped as they are not legal.

 

In a reply to me last week from the Gauteng MEC for COGTA it transpired that the City did not follow proper public participation processes to determine whether the properties it intended to sell are necessary for current or future municipal service delivery.

 

It is my view that the public and other stakeholders were not properly consulted to determine whether the land to be auctioned was necessary for municipal service delivery.

 

At least 11 of the properties are currently zoned as public open space and selling it off could find the City in contravention of its own Spatial Development Framework (SDF), which requires a minimum number of public open spaces required for the city’s population.

 

In the light of the City’s densification policy, public open spaces are a critical design element.

 

Click here to view the list of properties on auction (Pdf, 15Mb).

 

One of the properties offered for sale is currently zoned for education purposes. The report that served before the council to seek approval for the sale of the properties did not indicate whether the Department of Education would require this property for future use as a school.

 

Properties currently zoned for housing are also among the list, which may impact on the Gauteng government’s plans to deliver housing to the poor.

 

Land for low cost housing is already scarce and by selling it off land Tshwane worsens the situation. It also goes against Premier David Makhura’s plans to use state owned land to spark development and growth.

 

Two of the properties are currently zoned as transport hubs and one property earmarked for sale was required as a future transport hub.

 

There is also concern that some of the properties have rivers, streams and fountains, and may be ecologically sensitive, which disqualifies them from being sold.

 

It also seems as if the projected prices properties may fetch as presented to the Tshwane Council, were heavily inflated – as many were based on future value after development had taken place.

 

Current value may be much lower than purported by the Tshwane municipality.

 

To this end I wrote to Gauteng Cooperative Governance MEC Jacob Mamobolo to urgently intervene in terms of his powers as provided for in the Municipal Systems Act.

 

In the meantime, the DA will compile a submission to the Office of the Public Protector to investigate the legality of the Tshwane land auctions.

DA welcomes land audit pronouncement

Janho Engelbrecht MPL

DA Gauteng Spokesperson on Agriculture:

The DA in Gauteng welcomes Premier David Makhura’s announcement last week that the provincial government would embark on a land audit to assist the growth of emerging farmers in the province.

 

Premier Makhura announced his intended move at the Agro-processing Industry Summit held in Kliptown.

 

The DA proposed a land audit for the province in November 2014, which laid out what the Premier announced at the summit.

 

It is significant that the governing party has acknowledged that it is on the wrong track and has taken the DA’s proposal to heart, by putting to good use fallow government-owned land.

 

While it is critical to redress the imbalances of the past, simply handing over land will not automatically put emerging farmers on the path to prosperity. Government needs to provide the necessary technical, financial and commercial advice and mentorship – if necessary in partnership with organized agriculture – to ensure that beneficiaries develop their enterprises into commercially viable operations their own right

 

The success of emerging farmers is not only vital in ensuring food security, but also for correcting the stark disparities in land ownership.

 

A strong emerging farming sector would be a step towards breaking down the enduring racial inequalities and social exclusions experienced by the majority of our people.

DA supports Land reform that achieves redress in rural communities

Ismail Obaray, MPL:

DA supports Land reform that achieves redress in rural communities

I have submitted parliamentary questions to the MEC for Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural development Mr. Norman Shushu to ascertain exactly how the recently established District Land Committees will function and their terms of reference.

The department announced recently the establishment of DLCs in the province’s five districts.

While we welcome this process to give land to previously disadvantaged communities, it is imperative to scrutinize the terms of reference of these committees and understand clearly their scope of operation in order to avoid any conflict of interest and irregularities that may occur.

Furthermore I want to ascertain from the MEC the funding mechanism that the department has put in place to resource the DLCs to achieve its objectives.

The DA supports land reform processes that achieve redress in rural communities, that promotes economic inclusion to lift rural people out of poverty, and supports growth and prosperity in the agricultural sector.

As land is directly related to food production and food security, programmes that affect land ownership and land use must prioritise the need to ensure the continued supply of food at prices that are affordable to ordinary South Africans.

Progress in achieving equitable land ownership has been very slow and the ANC government’s land reform approach has not been successful in establishing an emerging class of commercial farmers.

Our land reform strategy must be informed not by the need to achieve quantitative land targets, but by the objectives to (i) support a thriving commercial agricultural sector that can protect South Africa’s food security, (ii) promote emerging small-scale farmers where economically viable, and (iii) alleviate poverty and support household food security through appropriate assistance for subsistence agriculture.

The success of land reform should therefore be determined in terms of the livelihoods created or supported and economic value created, rather than the hectares of land transferred.

Western Cape Government establishes Land Reform Advisory Desk

2 March 2015:

The Western Cape Government has established a Land Reform Advisory Desk to aid the speed of transformation in the province’s agricultural sector.

Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the desk was located at Casidra’s head office in Paarl.

Casidra is an implementing agency for the Western Cape Department of Agriculture.

Minister Winde said: “Speeding up land reform is one of my foremost priorities. The Land Reform Advisory Desk will offer guidance to farmers, community organisations and residents. We are putting our full weight behind efforts to get viable projects going.”

Minister Winde welcomed the establishment of the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s district land reform committees.

The committees, which are convened and chaired by the National Department, have started meeting regularly.

There are six committees in total – one in each of the districts across the province. They are comprised of representatives from national and provincial government, organised agriculture and civil society.

Minister Winde said the Western Cape Department of Agriculture is represented on all the committees.

“These committees will seek to identify land to meet the land reform goals set out in National Development Plan. The NDP 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. The Western Cape Government will continue to strengthen the support roles we play.  One of the tools we are using is Casidra’s Land Reform Advisory Desk. 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,” said Minister Winde.

FS Government oversteps mandate on land reform

Roy Jankielsohn

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

The Free State provincial government has announced through its spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, that government intends launching an ambitious pilot project that would seek to transfer ownership of 50% of farm land to farm workers who live and work on such land. This was apparently decided during a provincial government lekgotla held in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

As reported in the media, the proposal includes increasing the minimum wage for farm workers to R2 420 per month. ANC provincial secretary, William Bulwane, is reported as stating that his party would take a radical approach to land reform and land distribution.

The DA recognises the political need to undertake a process of transformation that facilitates redress of past injustices and contributes to nation building and food security. Such a process must be inclusive and consultative, taking the inputs of all stakeholders into account.

The announcement by the provincial government is premature given the national nature of this issue. Any decisions regarding land reform and land restitution must take into account the national legal framework and constitutional prerogatives in this regard, the need for an inclusive process, and the possible effects of decision-making on a very frail provincial and national economy.

Sporadic political statements emanating from a provincial government on land reform could damage the spirit of inclusivity within which such a process must be undertaken.

The Free State Provincial Government is clearly overstepping its constitutional mandate and should first concentrate on basic services such as healthcare, education, and roads infrastructure.

DA Free State reiterates commitment to equitable land reform

Patricia Kopane

DA Free State Premier Candidate

Note: This is a speech delivered by the DA Free State Premier Candidate, Patricia Kopane, in Matjhabeng.

Goeie more aan almal wat hier vandag byeen gekom het. Dit is vir my ‘n eer om saam met julle hier te wees.

Recently there have been some misconceptions about the DA’s stance on land reform and specifically our position on the reopening of land claims.

It is unfortunate that our political opponents, the ANC on one side and the FF+ on the other chose to again racialise this very sensitive issue.

Soos Helen Zille in haar weeklikse nuusbrief gese het, die ANC het slegs ‘n eenvoudige strategie wat hulle volg om ‘n verkiesing te wen. Hulle hoef bloot net te verseker dat die kiesers volgens historiese foutlyne verdeeld bly, die foutlyne is ras en etnisiteit.

The DA realises that in order for this beautiful country of ours to succeed, we all need to work together, black, white, coloured, Indian and all other individuals who call themselves South African.

Our task in the DA is to bring people together. We want to unite the nation. To ensure that every South African can have the life they deserve. Our project is to create an Open, Opportunity Society, where everyone, regardless of race and background will have access to equal opportunities.

Our goals are more difficult to achieve compared to that of our detractors, because we want to unite, and our detractors can so easily use issues such as land reform to divide.

Maar ons moet ook eerlik wees met mekaar.

The injustices of the 1913 Land Act had a real tangible emotional and economic impact on the majority of South Africans. It expropriated land from blacks without compensation and forced them live in far flung places away from infrastructure and jobs. It marginalised our people and divided our society. It was the foundation on which Grand Apartheid was built.

Maar wat moet ons vandag meer as a honderdjaar later met grondhervorming doen?

This is where the DA’s position has always remained clear.

The DA supports an orderly and lawful land reform programme which compensates people who have been dispossessed of their land. We believe that if well managed such a land reform programme would boost rural economies across South Africa.

There are many ways to address the land question, and the land reform programme. One such method that we have successfully implemented in the Western Cape is the farm equity schemes. We have an 80% success rate, which is perhaps why the ANC-led national government has stopped funding them.

With farm equity schemes we negotiate share transfers to beneficiaries paid for by the State as part of the land reform programme. This model ensures that farms continue to produce, and much needed skills transfers and development takes place between experienced farmers and beneficiaries. Farm equity schemes create a mutually beneficial relationship between farmers and beneficiaries.

Maar hoekom maak die ANC so ‘n groot bohaai met die heropening van grondeise?

The ANC knows that it has failed in its land reform programme. So to buy time and exploit people’s emotions they keep on moving the goal posts for its own selfish gain. They blame the ‘willing buyer-willing seller’ mechanism claiming farmers refuse to sell land to the State, yet it is the State that fails to procure land. In some instances where the government actually bought land they have failed to transfer it to claimants.

The entire Department of Land Reform and Rural Development is overloaded with a corrupt and incapacitated system. Its own programmes have failed repeatedly.

This has largely contributed to the decline of South Africa’s rural economy. In 1994 we had more than 120 000 productive farmers. Today we have about 37 000 productive farmers left. Many farmers are moving to neighbouring countries where they are received with open arms for the skills and development they bring to those countries. South African farmers are becoming a sought after commodity in Africa and even as far as Georgia in Eastern Europe and Portugal.

The DA does, however, also recognise that some people were deprived of the opportunity to lodge land claims before the 1998 deadline due to the inefficiency of the government. We can’t allow these legitimate claimants to be penalised because of the government’s incompetence.

Dit is waarom die DA ‘n ‘wen-wen’ uitkoms met grondhervorming wil bereik.

This is why we will continue to fight for amendments to the legislation so that we can ensure that nobody have their Rights infringed upon.

Only once our concerns are addressed and the State can ensure that conditions for a successful restitution process are in place will we support the reopening of land claims for a limited period.

The DA has a detailed policy on Land Reform that details how a DA government will manage the land reform process. This policy can be easily accessed on our website. We believe that our approach can fix the shambles created by the ANC over the last 20 years.

Land reform is not just about taking land from farmers. In almost 90% of cases, claimants opt for financial compensation. During public meetings the ANC expressed shock at this phenomenon.

Dit wys net uit dat die ANC self nie weet, of wil weet, wat die mense in Suid-Afrika wil hê nie.

Today I also want to reassure you that the DA will not support any action that will compromise the Constitution.

Ons verstaan hoe moeilik dit is om onder die huidige omstandighede te boer.

Last year we requested the provincial government to declare parts of the Free State as drought areas, so that we could extend relief to struggling farmers. The ANC government refused to entertain our request.

Agriculture in the Free State is on a drastic decline. Over the last 10 years this sector has shed more than 39 000 jobs. We also know that this very important industry faces serious challenges, with little or no support from government.

But it is this industry that produces the food we need as a nation and it is one of the most labour intensive sectors. It is crucial to create employment and drive economic growth in our province through investment in agriculture.

The Free State is famous as one of the country’s agricultural hubs. Yet, many of our rural communities struggle as agricultural jobs become more difficult to come by.

A DA government will implement mentorship programmes and partnerships that will give emerging farmers additional support.

We would also champion Agro-processing and bio-fuels production in the Free State.

The DA government in the Free State will initiate a comprehensive rehabilitation programme for all roads across the province. We will also spearhead initiatives to identify the need for the construction of new roads. This will greatly improve the connectivity between economic and job centres and ease the free movement of our people. It will also increase the productivity of our agricultural sector.

As the DA we are also aware of the safety and security situation in our rural areas. Criminal activities happen regularly in both white and black rural communities. It is imperative that we ensure the safety and security of all South Africans, especially in our agricultural sector.

This is why a DA government will launch a programme where we subsidise and support Community Policing Forums, in partnership with the SAPS.

Ons waardeer wat julle dag in en dag uit vir die res van Suid-Afrika doen om ons tafels van kos te voorsien.

Kom on stap saam die toekoms in om a beter Suid-Afrika vir al ons mense te bou.

Baie dankie.

Government holds the key to land reform

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

Mpumalanga’s provincial government is ideally placed to contribute significantly to land reform in the province, provided it does so with careful planning and effective management and skills transfer initiatives.

According to media reports, the recently conducted land audit by the chief surveyor general Mmuso Riba shows that 25% of all land in Mpumalanga is government owned, and that 13% lies unaccounted for, despite premier David Mabuza’s insistence last week that government knows how much land it owns and where it is.

In a province that is predominately rural, government needs to take bold steps to stimulate economic development, by not just restoring people to the land, but to make sure that the land is used productively.

To date government has spent more than a billion rand on land reform and restitution initiatives, however many of the once productive tracts of land has collapsed as beneficiaries are not provided with the necessary skills and support to maintain commercial viability. While some financial assistance is provided, beneficiaries are at an automatic disadvantage purely because they lack the capacity to make the land work for them.

Furthermore, more than a million of Mpumalanga’s people live on thousands of hectares of land locked in communal trusts, and are unable to attain a title deed for land on which they have lived for decades. As a result, such persons are often doomed to life of poverty, as they cannot use the land to raise capital to start a business, or fund their children’s education, or to improve the quality of their lives.

If government is serious about rural development this system must be reviewed and reformed to give as many citizens as possible a title deed for the land on which they live, so they can raise capital to boost their  entrepreneurial spirit and for farmers to become commercially viable.

Government should lead by example and instead of hoarding the land, a DA government will speed up land reform and give emergent farmers the support they need to be successful, by identifying state owned land not needed for core service delivery and make it available to empower the poor.

Disteneng Land Claim: 15 years on still no resolve

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance is extremely concerned that the land claim lodged by Disteneng land beneficiaries has been dragged by the Department of Rural Development and Land Affairs (RLLA) for over 15 years that to date no land has been allocated to these beneficiaries.

This ineptitude by RLLA contrasts sharply with the government’s stated committed to land reform. It shows convincingly that rather than it being the constitutional framework which slows down land reform, it is the department’s own fault that some of the land claimants are still not getting their land.

There are 128 claimants who stand to benefit from this land reform process.

These claimants’ first lodged their land claim in 1995 and it was approved by the Minister in 2001. This was a claim to the land which is now called Disteneng, outside of Polokwane and the approval was made before shacks were erected on the land claimed.

Because the government was slow in handing the land to the claimants, the current informal shacks were erected on the land that it became impossible for the land to be handed over.

An alternative land, extension 40 was then identified in 2005 and the Department of Land Affairs allocated over R23 million for the development of this land into a township.

This, extension 40 is a piece of land which belongs to the Polokwane Municipality and the DA is in possession of documents which shows that council resolutions were taken to donate this land to the land claimants.

All that was needed was for the Department of Land Affairs to finance its development into a township by building the necessary infrastructure using the R23 million allocated for this.

Up to now nothing has happened.

Instead, because it has taken the department a long time since 2005 when the R23 million was allocated for the development of this township, the costs have gone up and are now estimated to be around R70 million.

Over the years, 17 claimants have passed away before they could see the benefits of their land claim.

The DA fully supports a constitutionally compliant land reform process. We are of the view that it is one of the fundamental ways of correcting past injustices. If used correctly it is an effective means of correcting the skewed land ownership patterns in South Africa.

The issue of the Disteneng land claimants shows the blame lies squarely at the feet of the Department.

The DA will be seeking an urgent meeting with the regional Land Claims Commissioner Mr. Maphoto to explain what happened to the R23 million which was allocated in 2005 to develop extension 20 into a township. Furthermore he must explain why is it taking a long time to process this land claim even though the earmarked land was donated by the Municipality.

Save Limpopo Land Reform project

Jacques Smalle MP

DA Limpopo Provincial Leader

A Limpopo land reform project intended to create jobs and business for beneficiaries is in danger of failing as the land is currently being occupied by informal settlers.

The Democratic Alliance will be seeking urgent clarity from the Rural Development and Land Affairs Department as to whether they gave approval to the land reform beneficiaries to move and settle on Jansen Park Plots 1&2 near Polokwane.

People are currently building shacks on these parcels of land, possibly with the go ahead of the Department.

Simply turning agricultural plots into a human settlement is going to deny the land reform beneficiaries the opportunity to derive income from agricultural activity.

The DA believes that it is important for this land reform project to succeed in order to correct past injustices.

However in this case, there needs to be a clear coordination between various spheres of government to make sure these communities derive utmost benefit from the land reform process.

Because these plots are not zoned as human settlement areas, it means that basic infrastructure such as houses, sanitation, water and sewerage has not been proclaimed by the municipality.

To make matters worse there is a current moratorium on further township proclamation by Polokwane Municipality.

The Department must urgently intervene to ensure the success of this project and clarify the conditions under which the land was transferred.