Video by Kamogelo Moichela
Johannesburg - The Department of Land Reform and Rural Development held the National Communal Land Tenure Summit 2022 in Birchwood, Boksburg, the East of Johannesburg.
Delivering a keynote address, Deputy President of South Africa David Mabuza said their gathering for the Land summit on Friday and Saturday significantly marks a milestone in their serious efforts of resolving the “National Question” and the hunt to affirm their heritage founded on the right to land as an important pillar for the realisation of development.
“Land, heritage and national identity are inseparable, as they define how we perceive ourselves as a sovereign nation with the uncontested right to self-determination. The national land spaces of our birth define ecosystems of life, our collective consciousness, nationhood and the possibilities of future progress that any nation, including ours, desires for its people,” he added.
Mabuza confidently said the nation lives because it has land, “the native people of the land live because they define themselves in relation to the land they inhabit for their development and progress”.
“Even the powerless and the poor are born into a land that must define their identities and provide sustenance to them and generations to come,” he said.
He added that the issue of land went without saying because communities’ lives were intertwined with land and natural endowments that must definitely benefit them.
During the keynote address by Mabuza, the Khoisan community showed appreciation as the deputy president acknowledged them.
“We cannot forget about the Khoisan people, who were also dispossessed of land in the earlier centuries. It was encouraging to hear that they were also consulted and will be allowed to make contributions at this summit on how the government should address the issues of the Khoisan communities.
“Any narration of the history of land dispossession wars in South Africa would be incomplete if it does not include the heroic struggles led by our traditional and Khoi-San leaders,” he said.
In the presence of kings, queens and traditional leaders, the Khoisan community and concerned citizens about when the land would be given to them without compensation, Mabuza gave an assurance that there was no point of return, as they had geared themselves to particularly confront the land question head-on by utilising all constitutionally compliant instruments and mechanisms of transformation.
“Fellow compatriots, we are at the crossroads. One possibly leading to anarchy and destruction and the other leading to a carefully guided land reform programme that ensures strategic land acquisition, land redistribution and restitution of land to its rightful owners and those who need it for development,” he said.
Mabuza admitted that as government, the land matter was a more complex and emotive matter to resolve, but they were committed to choosing the path that leads them in the right direction, and said the problem could be easily resolved through closer collaboration between municipalities and traditional leaders.
He added that land tenure reform remained a critical component of the land reform programme.
Mabuza said they were well aware of the urgent need to effect land transformation that goes beyond the 13% of communal land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders.
“We will proceed with available policy and legislative instruments that will assist in the acquisition of more land for redistribution and expansion of communal land, especially in areas where land has been expropriated in the public interest.
“We will ensure that land issues not covered in the deliberations of this narrowly focused summit are firmly placed on the agenda of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team that is seized with addressing all issues raised by traditional and Khoisan leaders,” he said.
He said as they took on the journey of returning land to the rightful owners of the land, they would make sure that proper and effective development and utilisation of communal land would be guided by long-term spatial development perspectives, depending on the comparative advantages of each area.
“Economic development corridors and designated human settlement areas must be based on spatial development priorities that contribute to the long-term development trajectory of a given district or local municipality. Spatial and land-use planning also guides infrastructure investment plans to support economic mobility and access to basic services and social amenities,” he said.
He added that the current approach to the development and growth of settlements on communal land was untenable and unsustainable.
Mabuza said they want to see the outcomes of the Land Summit 2022 and, as government, they are committed and will not tire and also hope that the summit will assist them in addressing the issues of communal land administration and land tenure in rural communities.
The Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, shared the same sentiment as the deputy president.
She said the land issue was still a problem and should also be well-addressed head-on.
“As we have said, the land carries for us a deep spiritual and cultural connection. When one passes away, we return to the earth. It is also where we build our homes, offices, roads, railways, dams and any infrastructure.
“The land is the main source of our food, nutrition, and prosperity as it supports our flora and fauna as well as our businesses, factories and mines. It is also connected to our waterways, rivers, dams, lakes as well as our oceans and seas. Even when we want to go to the skies or space, we must start and end on land,” she said.