Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane recently tabled her maiden budget vote speech in Parliament.
In her opening address, the minister said the land redistribution programme remained key to providing access to land to historically disadvantaged people.
Since 1994, through the land redistribution programme, we have acquired 4.8millionhectares of land at a cost of R17bn. Of the 4.8millionhectares, 4million is agricultural land, and 779000ha is land acquired and allocated to labour tenants and farm dwellers for tenure-reform purposes.
The department has recapitalised 1675 farms equating to 1.5millionhectares at a cost of R4.8bn, the minister said.
During the current financial year, the department plans to acquire 98100ha of land through the Pro-active Land Acquisition Strategy. Labour tenants and farm dwellers will be given priority.
The minister said the department would also pilot 18 farms to support peri-urban culture, the revitalisation of rural towns, and the accelerated land development and redistribution initiative. An amount of R1.2bn has been set aside for the acquisition of land to support the programmes.
Governance issues in communal property associations (CPA) have been one of the key challenges affecting the sustainability of the land reform programme.
We have recently tabled the CPA amendment bill. We hope there will be progress so that it can be enacted in the current financial year. The bill provides for the establishment of the Office of the Registrar which will improve the capacity to monitor, train and deal with conflicts that might arise.
It is shocking that this year, 24 years after we achieved democracy, illegal evictions and human rights abuses on farms persist. It has recently come to my attention that in some parts of the country, people face the indignity of not being able to bury their loved ones on land they have resided on for most of their lives.
These kinds of incidents undermine the land rights culture that we are trying to instil.
We will focus on improving the security of farm dwellers through the amendments that are being proposed in the Extension of Security Tenure Act.
As South Africans, we must accept that even without the finer details that will come forth from this phase of the audit, since 1995 only 2% of 82millionhectares of agricultural land has been redistributed. This means we have not redressed the landlessness apartheid caused. It means we have not brought to fruition the covenant that Madiba spoke of, the “covenant to build a society in which all South Africans, black and white, will be able to walk tall, and assured of their inalienable right to human dignity”.
* Tshepo Diale, Nkwe Estate.
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