Land reform and rural development minister Gugile Nkwinti. Photo: Leon Nicholas

Parliament, Cape Town - The state owns 22 percent of the country's land with 78 percent of land parcels in private hands, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.

Nkwinti waved a copy of the outcome of the much-anticipated land audit in the air as he spoke on day one of the state-of-the-nation debate, which took place in the National Assembly.

“We have completed the state and private land audit, and the statistics indicate that approximately 26 million hectares is state land, and 96 million hectares is privately owned,” he said.

A breakdown of who owns the private land in terms of nationality and race was still outstanding.

“There is an institutional challenge, which will be resolved very soon,” Nkwinti told MPs.

He outlined problems with the land redistribution process which had favoured white farmers.

“The state has paid twice as much for land for restitution, as it has paid for land for redistribution, because the state is a compelled buyer.”

His statement comes after President Jacob Zuma committed to end the willing-buyer-willing-seller model during his address last week.

“The numbers clearly show who has benefited from the programme. The small, white, landed class has benefited R10.8bn from land acquired, while the 71 292 working class claimants benefited R6bn,” Nkwinti said.

The land audit was commissioned to establish exactly how much land is owned by the state and the private sector, as well as how much of that land is owned by blacks.

It was hoped this figure would help government ensure that 30 percent of the estimated 82 million hectares of agricultural land in South Africa “presumed to be in the hands of white commercial farmers”, are transferred to blacks by next year. - Sapa