Cape Town - While the government has accepted that land reform across the country was slow, Deputy President Paul Mashatile said it was not as though “nothing had happened”.
Mashatile said a total of 552 000 households have benefitted from land reform programmes, including 174 000 female-headed households, 1 240 households headed by people living with disabilities, and 720 000 hectares of state land were identified and distributed as early as 2020.
He was responding during an oral question session in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday, after DA MP Willem Aucamp accused the ANC-led government of trying to hide its failures in land reform by introducing race quotas on water users.
In May, the Department of Water and Sanitation gazetted proposed water licensing regulations, which provide for certain enterprises applying for water use licences, to allocate shares of up to 75% to black South Africans.
In his response, Mashatile said there was “a lot that was happening”.
“As we get involved in land reform, redistribution and restitution, we are also doing transformation.
“Programmes such as quotas are intended to ensure the previously disadvantaged are also brought into the mainstream of the economy through programmes that they will acquire through land redistribution and restitution.
“There is a lot the government is doing in that regard to ensure that we correct the problems of the past and return land to our people and to ensure they actually get involved in farming,” Mashatile said.
He also said there was support being provided to the programmes.
“We want to support all farmers. We are not discriminating. It is important to redress the imbalances of the past.”
Asked about measures to ensure commercial activities were not negatively affected by the accelerated agricultural land reform and support,
Mashatile said the government was trying as much as possible to not disturb programmes aimed at food security.
“There needs to be a balance to redistribute land to ensure more people come to agriculture without chasing anybody away.
“Commercial farmers that are there need to be supported and are supported,” he said, adding that there was access to Land Bank loans to produce more for purposes of ensuring there was food security in the country. One of the things we do is to meet all ministers to look at their programmes and what they prioritise.
“This is something the Minister of Agriculture is doing to fast-track this programme,” he said.
The deputy president noted that one of the challenges was dispute among land claimants within families and communities.
He was responding to EFF MP Mmabatho Mokause, who noted that the Land Claims Commission had indicated that it will take up to 30 years to settle the less than 7000 outstanding land claims.