Archive for September 2011
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s 2010/11 annual report has revealed that 85.6% of land purchased from land-owners for the purposes of land reform has been transferred to land claimants under leasehold, while only 14.4% of claimants have been awarded full ownership rights.
According to the annual report, a total of 322 844.9931 hectares of land was transferred to beneficiaries in the 2010/11 financial year. The majority of the land- 276 396.6839 hectares – was registered in the name of the state. Just 46 448.3038 was returned to land claimants with full ownership.
This discrepancy highlights the government’s skewed approach to land reform. Instead of land claimants being granted full ownership of their land, which would allow them to borrow against their assets in order to implement changes to their businesses in the case of commercial operations, or simply to upgrade their property if it is residential, the vast majority of claimants are merely tenants on state-owned land.
Not only does this prevent the land from being used as loan collateral, but it acts as a disincentive for claimants to invest in the land’s productive capacity. Without the freedom and stability to invest in their properties, claimants are consigned to the status of tenants, and have no incentive to make improvements to the land they have acquired since they bear neither the risk nor the reward associated with running a successful business.
Why would claimants devote time and resources to investing in land that is not theirs?
This effectively means that the true spirit of the purpose of land reform – the returning of land rights denied during Apartheid and the colonial era to claimants with full ownership rights – is not being adhered to.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) will soon be making its submission on the Land Reform Green Paper. The Department has today indicated that the deadline for submissions is 31 October. Central to this will be the proposal that the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS), which facilitates the transferring of land to claimants under leasehold, be scrapped. It is essential that all land is transferred with full ownership rights, together with the requisite skills training and financial support, to ensure that land reform is a success.
On behalf of the Democratic Alliance (DA) I would like to congratulate the DA Students Organisation (DASO) branch at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) for winning the university SRC with a full and comfortable majority. DASO won 10 of the 18 seats on the council. Yusuf Cassim, Sifiso Nkosi, Thulani Nkuntse, Sam Beynon and Mothusi Mbole will be filling all of the key executive portfolio positions, including, president, deputy president, secretary, deputy secretary and treasurer.
Led by branch chairperson, Yusuf Cassim, DASO NMMU has experienced exponential growth since gaining four seats on last year’s SRC, all in little over a year of existence. This win, in the heart of the ANC’s home province, points to a significant and continuing shift in campus politics, in which students have grown tired of SASCO’s bully politics and are choosing DASO, which has become synonymous with clean and efficient SRC government. Although student politics change dramatically from year to year, the exponential growth of DASO at a number of key campuses around South Africa in a few short years points to a significant consolidation of our support from young South Africans.
The win at NMMU follows DASO winning four seats on the Rhodes University SRC, where it is is the only political organisation that received enough votes for representation on the SRC, as well as a growth of 573% in voter support for DASO at Wits. DASO also currently has a majority on the UCT SRC, where it holds the presidency and secretary general positions. The growth of DASO at all of these campuses around South Africa follows the growth of the DA in recent elections and further cements the fact that South Africans from all communities are choosing the DA as the party to lead them towards a future of delivery, diversity, redress and reconciliation for all.
The arrival of the Green Paper on Land Reform has been a very long time coming. It is a testament to the importance of this document that so many leaked copies of draft versions have been in circulation over the past year.
This 11 page policy offering gives a glimpse into the ANC’s priorities in respect of land reform. As expected, it relies heavily on a discourse of apartheid and colonial dispossession while paying no attention to government inefficiencies after 17 years in power.
Most importantly, it offers no vision of how to substantially address the inequities bequeathed by apartheid in a coherent and sustainable way. If the Green Paper is implemented in its current form, the landless of South Africa will continue to feel the effects of the past.
There is no question that South Africa needs an effective, well-implemented land reform programme. It is a moral imperative that the injustices created by the 1913 Land Act – which forced millions of black South Africans off their land – are addressed.
The DA’s own vision for land reform is of a thriving rural economy in which the injustices of apartheid and colonialism are effectively and decisively redressed through a combination of sustainable job-creating economic growth, and a well-managed and appropriately resourced land restitution and redistribution programme.
This Green Paper is very far from this vision.
We have very serious concerns about the proposed Land Management Commission which will be given wide-ranging discretionary powers to subpoena, award amnesty and invalidate land ownership. These are powers that should be in the hands of the courts, not in a quasi-autonomous body within the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and accountable to the Ministry.
We have similar concerns with the proposed establishment of a Land Valuer-General mandated to determine financial compensation in cases of land expropriation. Again, this is a task that should be left to the judiciary – as specifically provided for in the Constitution. Appointing a non-independent body to determine compensation will be open to abuse and undermine the constitutional principle of willing-buyer-willing-seller.
These measures will create instability and undermine confidence in South Africa’s rural economy. This will have a detrimental impact on economic growth and job creation.
Our main concern in the Green Paper lies with the government’s focus on the 3 million South Africans who live and work on privately-owned farms, while failing adequately to deal with the issue of communal land tenure which affects the 16 million landless South Africans who reside in the former apartheid homelands.
In the Green Paper, the Minister notes that because of the complexity of communal land tenure and the recent nullification of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA) by the Constitutional Court, its policy in this regard will be ‘treated in a separate policy articulation’ and suggests that the communal tenure will be according to ‘institutionalised use rights’.
What we are seeing here is a lack of political will to confer full land rights to people who live on communally-owned land. At least 4.5 million of these people are engaged in agricultural activity.
In order to ensure the security of tenure of those currently living in the former homelands, a formal registration process of individual deed titles of land and buildings in these areas must begin. In order to ensure the continued success of the citizens granted full individual title, the government must institute and oversee an effective programme of post-settlement support, offering beneficiaries economic and agricultural support in the form of resource and advisory services.
Land reform in South Africa can be a “win-win” scenario, in which the injustices of the past are redressed, while at the same time growing the rural economy, creating jobs, and ensuring access to opportunity for all South Africans.
In order to achieve these aims, the overarching objective of any government responsible for answering the land question must be to drive rural economic growth and job creation. Instead of vilifying property rights, the government can and should expand access to them in order to empower landless South Africans economically and redress the imbalances of the past.
This Green Paper does not come close to addressing the myriad issues which affect this policy area. The Minister needs to go back to the drawing board and draft a policy document that details a comprehensive and substantive plan for land reform in South Africa.
Link to full DA response on the Green Paper on Land Reform: