Today the Democratic Alliance (DA) is observing International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Designated in 1993 by the United Nations as the day to raise awareness of the need for poverty eradication in all countries across the world, for the DA it also presents an opportunity for South Africans to acknowledge the struggle of the millions of people living in poverty in our country. It also serves as a reminder to further our efforts to ensure that they are lifted out of it.
In recognition of the need for fresh ideas aimed at tackling poverty, the DA has been engaged in a policy project designed to identify what South Africa needs to do in order to achieve an annual rate of 8% economic growth, tackle our unemployment crisis and, as a consequence, lift millions of our citizens out of poverty. We believe it is only by accelerating growth to this level that we will begin to achieve these goals.
We cannot seek solutions to the challenges we face unless we understand the problems that cause them. As such, the first phase of our project is a diagnostic assessment of the key challenges facing our economy today. Under the leadership of the DA’s Federal Chairperson, Dr Wilmot James, the first phase of the project has been completed and will be presented to the public in the coming week.
Where we govern we have shown that, through dedicated implementation of well-thought out policies, it is possible to ensure that our poorest citizens are afforded access to much needed services, thus improving the lives of those living under DA governments.
We have also engaged the national government on a number of policy proposals which we believe will go some way towards the alleviation of poverty in this country:
- Youth Wage Subsidy: The implementation of the Youth Wage Subsidy could create 178 000 jobs in three years at a cost of R28 000 each. Had the policy been implemented in April this year, it would already have benefited almost 200 000 young people and created more than 80 000 new jobs.
- Communal Tenure Private Members Bill: We have presented a legislative proposal to Parliament calling for legislation to be drafted allowing for private land ownership on communally owned land. Private land ownership has the potential to ensure that residents on communally owned land can live unencumbered on their land and leverage it to improve their livelihoods. This will ensure that poverty levels in rural areas are reduced.
- Zero VAT on textbooks: Reducing the rate of VAT on textbooks would ensure that more students have access to textbooks, and in turn increase the quality of graduates. Education is the key out of poverty.
- Every Rand Counts Campaign: We have monitored wasteful and fruitless expenditure by the government. We hope that by highlighting the misuse of public resources, government will be motivated to ensure that money is channelled towards programmes aimed at poverty eradication.
We can overcome poverty in South Africa. But this requires a government with the vision and the courage to implement policies that will achieve this. The DA aims to be at the forefront of this important process
On 6 October, the Democratic Alliance (DA) submitted a Private Member’s Bill on Communal Land Rights to the Speaker of the National Assembly. The objective of this Bill is to give people living on communally owned land in the former homelands full and unhindered individual ownership of their land.
People living in the former homelands make up half of South Africa’s population. It is unacceptable that, in the seventeenth year of democracy, they are still waiting for their land rights to be made secure.
The inequities bequeathed by colonialism and Apartheid must be redressed to ensure a thriving rural economy that provides for job creation and economic growth.
We strongly believe that full individual ownership must be extended to ensure that people living on communally owned land are empowered to live unencumbered on their land and leverage it to improve their livelihoods. Without full individual property rights, residents on communally owned land cannot use their land as loan collateral, rent, or sell any portion of it to enjoy the full benefits of land ownership.
Land ownership has the potential to ensure the expansion and diversification of South Africa’s commercial agriculture sector to increase productivity, create more rural jobs and promote food security.
This proposed legislation is driven by the need to expedite the process of transferring land historically owned by the former homelands to individuals. More than this, such legislative amendments are necessitated by the Constitutional Court’s May 2010 finding that the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA) was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court reached this conclusion that the Act had been enacted in a procedurally incorrect manner.
In response, the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform admitted that CLARA was inconsistent with government policy and would be repealed.
It has been over a year, and we are yet to see legislation to fill this lacuna.
Our Private Member’s Bill proposes that:
- Legislation must be drafted to ensure that all land in the former homelands is surveyed so that it is known exactly how much land exists and who is living on it. Currently, this land is categorised as “unsurveyed, unregistered state land” and “trust land” and is not properly registered in any database.
- Once the process of surveying land is complete, land must be registered in individuals’ names in the Deeds Registry after a public announcement has been made calling for individual community members to register ownership of the land they are currently living on.
- The rates collection system that applies in municipal areas should be applied in these areas as well, so that the entire country is covered by a simple and uniform rates collection system. Currently, this system is not applied to communally held land. This new system would require these areas to be demarcated as municipalities and therefore subject to the provisions of the Municipal Systems Act.
We trust that the Portfolio Committee on Private Member’s Legislative Proposals and Special Petitions will consider our proposal favourably, and bring much needed relief to the residents on communally owned land.
People living in the former homelands have been denied individual land ownership for too long. We believe it is high time that their rights are recognised as part of our national land reform strategy.
In a reply to a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question, the Minister for Defence and Military Veterans, Lindiwe Sisulu, has admitted that, had her department been approached to provide funding for the ANC’s centenary celebrations, she would have gladly agreed to do so.
Minister Sisulu’s reply reads as follows:
“If the member is referring to the African National Congress (ANC), we would have been honoured to have been considered. The United Nations (UN) has recognized and honoured this outstanding organization. The Member is encouraged to read what, amongst others, the Secretary General of the UN, Mr B Moon said about this organization. Perhaps the Honourable can encourage his party to do the same. Sadly, we have not been approached“.
The Minister’s response demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of and disregard for the division between party and state. Public funds cannot and should not be used to fund party-political events. By saying that she would have agreed to use public funds to finance the ANC’s centenary celebrations, the Minister is admitting that she would have gladly disregarded this critical division.
In addition, by agreeing to fund a political organization, Minister Sisulu would have been putting the independence of the military, as stipulated the Constitution, in jeopardy. Section 199 specifies that “neither the security services, nor any of its members, may, in the performance of their functions, further, in a partisan manner, any interest of a political party”. By diverting public funds intended to fund the military, the Minister would have been demonstrating allegiance to the ANC as a political party and not to the country as a whole.
While the DA recognises the role played by the ANC, amongst other movements, in the struggle for the liberation of South Africa from Apartheid, the ANC is however no longer a liberation movement, but a political party which contests elections in a democratic space like all other political parties. There can therefore be no justification for the diversion of public funds for a party-political celebration.
Earlier this year, the DA welcomed the commitment made by ANC Chairperson, Baleka Mbete that the ANC had “no intention” of using state funds to finance the party’s centenary celebrations. We are disappointed to note that so soon after this public commitment, a member of the cabinet has shown such enthusiasm for flouting this assurance.
I have submitted parliamentary questions to all government departments to determine whether public money will be utilized to fund the ANC’s centenary celebrations next year.
A review of the latest national government departments’ annual reports reveals that over R 427.4 million has been incurred in fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the 2010/11 financial year. This is a 1 600% increase from last year when, according to the Auditor-General’s Report on National Audit Outcomes, the figure stood at R26.6 million.
According to a list of expenditure deemed wasteful and fruitless by the Auditor-General in the annual reports of national departments, the following amounts were wasted:
Home Affairs – R 334 640 000
Rural Development & Land Reform – R73 406 000
Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries – R 12 199 000
Health – R2 556 000
Basic Education – R 376 000
Communications – R 1 438 000
Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs – R 336 000
Correctional Services – R 6000
Economic Development – R27 000
Justice & Constitutional Development – R849 000
Police – R771 000
Public Enterprises – R4 000
Public Service & Administration – R311 000
Science & Technology – R110 000
Social Development – R7 000
Transport – R12 000
Water Affairs – R369 000
Had reasonable care been exercised, this R427 million could have been directed towards improving the livelihoods of thousands. R427 million builds approximately 7 000 houses, 10 new schools, and could provide salaries for 2 500 teachers.
This figure does not include the Departments of Sports and Recreation, State Security, and Women, Youth, Children and People with Disabilities. These departments have yet to table their annual reports, despite the passing of the deadline for tabling in Parliament on 30 September.
In July 2010, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announced that a task team would be established to prepare recommendations for Cabinet on wasteful expenditure. Nothing has happened.
In the meantime, while we wait to hear from the Deputy President, wasteful expenditure is rising exponentially.
I have written to Deputy President Motlanthe, requesting feedback on the progress of the task team he promised to establish. If this latest revelation does not kick his office into gear, then nothing will.
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.