Speech by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Nkwinti (MP) during the debate on the State of the Nation Address

"Building vibrant, equitable, and sustainable rural communities"

19 February 2013

Honorable Speaker
Honourable Deputy-Speaker
Honourable President of the Republic
Honourable Deputy-President of the Republic
Honourable Ministers and Deputy-Minister
Honourable Members
Ladies and Gentlemen
Mr Speaker

On the 14 th February (2013), the President presented his State of the Nation Address, setting out what government has undertaken to address the triple challenge of income inequality, poverty and unemployment. The President further set out what government is doing to give effect to the National Development Plan, which serves as our country’s 2030 vision.

It is, indeed, an honour and privilege for me to be participating in this debate; more so because it is an opportunity to reflect on a matter that lies in the hearts of all South Africans, namely, land reform.

Land reform has four pillars: redistribution, restitution, development and tenure reform.

Until the establishment of the new Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in 2009, land reform had been narrowly interpreted to refer to the first two pillars. The result has been a focus on the number of farms and hectares transferred from white owners to black claimants or beneficiaries of the land reform pogrammes. This was the basis on which the 2014 target of 30% was set; an amount that translates to 24.5m ha out of the 82m ha of agricultural land which was in the hands of white commercial farmers. The development thrust was introduced in 2009, with 3

the adoption of the Recapitalisation and Development Programme (Recap); and, tenure reform strengthened by the Four-Tier Land Tenure System which was introduced through the Green Paper approved by Cabinet in 2011. While it is true that there were previous programmes, such as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme and the Post-settlement Support Programme, these were not designed as an integral part of land reform. Notwithstanding the lack of targeted support from government, some beneficiaries developed their land with their limited resources. Others got loans from the Land Bank or commercial banks, which they could not service; and, consequently lost their land. But, Mr President, under your unassuming leadership the government has, since 2009, started reversing this trend.

Farms transferred to black people and communities, through the various Redistribution Programmes, from 1994 to the 31

st of January, 2013, amounted to 4 813 farms, which translates to 4, 123 million ha, benefitting 230 886 persons, of which 50 440 are women (1.7m ha in the hands of women); 32 563 are young people; and, 674 are persons with disability.

To acquire this land, the state spent R12.9bn. Of the 4,123 million ha acquired, the government has, since 2010, recapitalized 696 farms into full operation, employing 4 982 permanent workers, and investing R1,8bn in infrastructure, inputs and strategic support. Of the 696 recapitalised farms, 332 are on cropping and 364 on livestock. The gross income generated by these farms, which can be accounted for, as of the 31 st of January 2013, is R126 million.

Land acquired by the state for the restitution of land rights, since the inception of the Programme (1995), amounts to 4 001 land parcels, translating into 1, 443 million ha. Of these beneficiaries, 136 968 are female headed households, and 672 persons with disability have benefited. A total of R16 billion has been spent on the programme thus far. This in settling 77 148 claims; R10bn for land acquisition, and R6bn for 71 292 financial compensation claims. The 5 856 settled claims, translating into 1.443 million ha, is land restored. This clearly shows that claimants have chosen financial compensation over land restoration. This is a reflection of poverty, unemployment, and income want. In your State of the Nation Address, Mr President, you clearly stated these as being at the centre of the National Development Plan’s transformation focus.

Mr Speaker,

Taking into consideration the above analysis, it is clear that through the restitution process, the state was a compelled buyer. Prices in restitution were far higher than those paid in terms of strategic land acquisitions under the redistribution programme. This is a clear indication that where the state is able to strategically acquire land, it is able to acquire more land for less money, as the state is not a compelled buyer. But even by our own admission, we could have bought more, if the principle of a just and equitable redistribution was actively applied. You mentioned this to be the direction that government is going to follow this year, Mr President.

Mr Speaker,

In terms of the new land tenure system for the country, we are introducing the following, namely; 5

  • State, and public land, leasehold;
  • Private land, freehold, with limited extent;
  • Foreign land ownership, leasehold; and,
  • Communal tenure, with institutionalized use-rights.

Mr Speaker,

The President, during the State of the Nation Address, announced the re-opening of the lodgement of land claims, for those who could not claim during the first window of opportunity. This announcement has two aspects to it. Firstly, being the reopening of the lodgment of land claims; and secondly, the creation of exceptions to the 1913 Natives Land Acts for heritage sites, historic landmarks and opportunities for the descendants of the Khoi and San to claim.

Of the many dire socio-economic consequences of the Act, the following stand out: it destroyed a fledging class of African farmers, secondly it destroyed the environment (through overpopulation, overgrazing, and deforestation etc.); and thirdly it placed black people, particularly Africans, in a situation of abject and grinding poverty.

Therefore to reverse this legacy, means rebuilding the class of black farmers, rebuilding the environment, and deepening production discipline for food security and sovereignty. The re-opening of the lodgment date and the exceptions to the 1913 Natives Land Act, will require massive preparatory work, which has commenced in earnest.

Unlike in the first opportunity, people will be assisted with a Manual on Land Claims, in all 11 official languages, a Manual which participants at the 6

first preparatory workshop call a Citizens Manual for Land Claims. Another component or element of the campaign, is oral history which will be collected from those who have lived through the catastrophic effects of the 1913 Natives Land Act.

The 11740 strong Narysec youth which the President referred to in his State of the Nation Address, will be distributing the Citizens Manual and collecting the oral history. Furthermore there are institutions and persons that have already come forward to be part of this campaign, including the SABC, Iziko Museums, UNISA, the National Heritage Council, the Departments of Justice, Public Works, Arts and Culture, and The Department of Woman, Children and Persons with Disabilities.

Mr Speaker,

There is a perception that land reform has failed, especially coming from the Opposition Democratic Alliance. Our contention is that it has been slow, not failed. We have completed the state and private land audit, and the statistics indicate that approximately 26m ha is state land, and 96m ha is privately owned. This means the state owns 22% of the land, whilst 78% is in private hands, which shows that South Africa has predominantly privately owned land. Outstanding in the audit process is the breakdown into nationality and race in the privately owned parcels or properties. There is an institutional challenge, which will be resolved very soon.

The political economy of restitution is that 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. The numbers clearly show who has benefitted 7 from the programme. The small white landed class has benefitted R10.8bn from land acquired, while the 71292 working class claimants benefited R6bn.

This is what the Office of the Valuer-General, and the other institutions will address, through the use of the "just and equitable" principle in accelerating the land reform process. In addition, the government will establish District Land Reform Committees, as proposed in the NDP, to contribute to, and accelerate, sustainable land reform.

Mr Speaker,

In 2010, government introduced the Recapitalisation and Development Programme, which serves to provide emerging farmers with a range of support packages, in terms of inputs, strategic support and infrastructure. Going forward, the government will establish the Rural Cooperatives Finance Facility (Rucoff), to provide much needed financial and other technical support to a fledgling class of small-holder farmers and co-operatives in both commercial and communal land spaces. During interactions, emerging small-holder farmers and co-operatives have expressed a wish that the government procured from them so that they could grow and be sustainable.

Mr Speaker,

The State of the Nation Address delivered by the President on the 14 th of February is both reflective and programmatic. This approach has caught the Honourable Members of the Opposition off guard. Mr President, don’t lose focus. If you were doing badly, they would be showering praises over you.

I thank you, Mr Speaker.