Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza briefing the media about the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture at Tshedimosetso House. Kopano Tlape GCIS
THE Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Department wants politicians holding public office and civil servants to have a cooling off period before they could benefit from the mooted policy on land allocation.

This was revealed in the draft national policy for beneficiary selection and land allocation that was published in the government gazette yesterday.

The policy, which is aimed at tackling transparency in the allocation of land, was approved by Cabinet for public comment in December last year.

It says within the land redistribution programme vulnerable groups and the marginalised have not been given sufficient opportunities to have access to land.

“It is therefore critical for the state to prioritise the most marginalised and vulnerable groups, specifically smallholder producers, women, youth, and people living with disabilities, rural and peri-urban residents and military veterans,” says the policy.

According to the document, the lack of a credible and transparent process for land allocation and beneficiary selection has resulted in manipulation of the process.

“There is gender inequity in land allocation and access, and a lack of mechanisms to enable poor communal residents and villagers to access land in case of natural disasters and urgent situations.”

The policy document says the government will strive to promote conditions which enable all the previously disadvantaged citizens and targeted groups to gain access to land.

It states that all applicants will be subjected to a skills audit and assessment before being allocated the land to inform training requirements and ensure sustainability and utilisation of the assets being allocated.

Among the categories of beneficiaries identified are households with no or very limited access to land, small scale farmers, medium-scale commercial farmers, large scale and well-established farmers.

According to the document, all previously disadvantaged South Africans over the age of 18 will qualify to access agricultural productive land along with women and disabled people.

This will also apply to military veterans, communal farmers and township dwellers.

However, spouses of public servants will be subjected to the amendment of existing state land lease and disposal policy.

“Public servants shall also declare that his or her spouse has applied for allocation of land under this policy,” states the document.

Metros and municipalities may apply directly to the department for acquisition of strategically located properties to address particular and urgent needs.

The policy envisages the department should not acquire new farms but release existing state land to municipalities for establishment or extension of residential and human settlements.

The policy names categories of persons who will be disqualified, including foreigners.

Politics Bureau