Agriculture and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza. Picture: Herbert Matimba/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Agriculture and Land Reform Minister Thoko Didiza says there is a need for a lasting solution to the land question in the country.

“For many of us this matter not only relates to sovereignty and equitable access to land as a natural resource, but more so to address socio-economic challenges that our country faces,” Didiza said on Tuesday, ahead of her budget speech.

Also speaking at the media briefing, her deputy, Mcebisi Skwatsha, said the government noted that the land question was an emotive issue.

Apart from using land for farming, Skwatsha said there were people who wanted land for urban settlement and for use to grow the economy.

“One of the things emphasised by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address was that the issue of expropriation of land without compensation has to be undertaken in an orderly fashion,” Skwatsha said.

He also said when the government, led by his department, dealt with the land issue, it would be about creating a just and equal society.

“Land grabs are not part of that process. Everything we do will be constitutionally considered and has to be done by an orderly process,” Skwatsha said.

Didiza also said the parliamentary process to amend the Constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation needed to be resuscitated. However, that did not mean they could not continue with the ­mandate of the department.

“I don’t see our work having to wait until the relevant section of the Constitution is amended,” Didiza said.

Reiterating her stance in the National Assembly on finding a solution to the land question, Didiza said public representatives, too, would like to find a lasting solution to the legacy of dispossession in the country.

She said their collective responsibility was how to address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in order to create a better life for all. “We need to create shared values in tackling these socio-economic challenges, and in building an inclusive, thriving and globally competitive agricultural sector.”

This, Didiza said, needed meaningful conversation with landowners on the land issue and its productive use.

“We need to be genuine and deliberate in transforming this sector. Historically, black South Africans were excluded from meaningful participation in the agricultural economy,” she said.

Didiza also said the food value chain remained highly concentrated amongst a few players. “This is hardly the basis of building a sustained agriculture economy that serves all. We need to work together to open up the sector, create opportunities for the historically disadvantaged groups, and make a concerted effort in growing the sector on an inclusive basis.”

Didiza said her department would focus on restitution to ensure that claims already at the stage of settlement were settled, and also deal with legacy issues in terms of land claims.

She committed to working with stakeholders about District Six in Cape Town, having recently met representatives in a “meet and greet” event.

“We are opening our arms to work together to find ways to deal with challenges that have taken us to court, and the resolution of the matter,” she said.

Didiza said legislation tabled in Parliament last year to strengthen the Community Property Association would be revived following problems experienced in the CPAs.

Political Bureau