Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

De Lille says SOEs should be drawn into land reform

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Apr 10, 2021

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Cape Town - Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille on Friday said the state-owned entities (SOEs) should be drawn into the land reform programme so that land could be released to help the government drive the land reform process.

“We can't have SOEs just keeping land on the balance sheet but land is not used,” De Lille said.

She made the statement when she was briefing the ad hoc committee tasked with amending the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

De Lille said under the leadership of Deputy President David Mabuza, a meeting was being planned with the SOEs.

“We have already requested them to make available land they own so that we can include the land of SOEs in the broader government programme of land reform, land redistribution, land restitution and also land tenure.”

The minister also said the other area the country has not done well at was dealing with spatial justice.

“We need to start integrating our cities and towns. We need to make available well-located land where we can bring people closer to work opportunities,” she said, adding that spatial development was such that the poor and the vulnerable were further away from CBDs.

De Lille also said she was engaging Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on the matter.

“I am setting up a meeting with him to look at well-located land owned by SOEs. They have well, good located land,” she said.

“Transnet has a lot of land. Transnet has a big portfolio of land. You have got Eskom, Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and the Post Office,” the minister stated.

Asked about audits of state land, farms and properties, De Lille said the government has done land audits to establish which land was available for the landless and people needing for land.

The first audit determined the amount of land owned by the state and the private sector while the second looked at privately owned land in urban areas.

De Lille told MPs that the 2013/14 audit found that 79% of land was in private ownership, 14% owned by the state and 7% unaccounted for.

Individuals, companies and trusts have a combined ownership of 90% land that was audited.

“The audit revealed that whites owned 72%, followed by coloured with 15%, Indians 5% and blacks 4%,” she said, adding that ownership of 3% remaining land could not be unidentified based on race and 1% was co-owned.

De Lille noted that a lot of things happened over the years in the land redistribution, land reform, last restitution and land tenure program.

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza recently released 700 000 hectares of land for agricultural purposes.

“Land reform has been slow but there is now commitment from the government to speed up land reform.”

The minister said there was a need to look into the 122 million hectares of South Africa land in addition to the land owned by the government.

“That will help us speed up land reform instead of just looking at land owned by the national government. If we can achieve that and we can work together as South Africans accepting that 79% of land is owned by the private sector, I think we can have a solution,” she said.

Also briefing the committee, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said his department fully supported the amendment of the Constitution as it provided that the right to property could be limited where land was expropriated for land reform with the amount of compensation payable could be zero.

“Such limitation must be regarded as a legitimate option for land reform. The bill in its current form will bring much needed legal certainty in that it explicitly states what is already implicitly provided for in Section 25,” Mantashe said.

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Political Bureau

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