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Department of Rural Development and Land Reform 2018/19 Financial Year Budget Policy Speech by Minister Hon M Nkoana Mashabane (MP)

11 May 2018

The Year of Nelson Mandela

Honourable Chairperson,

Honourable Ministers

Deputy Ministers

Honourable Members of Parliament

Officials of the Department

Our partners and stakeholders in Rural Development and Land Reform

Distinguished Guests

Fellow South Africans

Ladies and gentlemen

I am honoured to present the budget vote speech of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform in the year that we celebrate the centenary of the birth of the father of our nation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela. It is in the year when we commemorate the centenary of Madiba that we should remember that in 1994, the first law to be passed by the first democratically elected parliament was the Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994). This was done with the conscious acknowledgement that land justice is important to deal with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

In 1995, barely a year into our democracy, Madiba recalled that and I quote: "With freedom and democracy last year, came restoration of the right to land. And with it the opportunity to address the effects of centuries of dispossession and denial. At last we can as a people, look our ancestors in the face and say: Your sacrifices were not in vain."
Close Quote

Madiba understood the importance of ensuring that land be returned to the dispossessed masses of our people. He understood that land redistribution, restitution and security of tenure are important elements of the `covenant to build a society in which all South Africans, black and white, will be able to walk tall, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity`.

During the Handing-over of land to the Cremin community in 1998, Madiba reminded us that:

And I quote:
"South Africans have fought wars with each other over land, bitter feuds have raged. People have died for it. In this regard, South Africa is no different from most countries in the world. But in our country, the dispossession of land was also part of the oppressive apartheid system that set us one against the other. By making most South Africans landless in the country of their birth that system produced inequality, division and poverty."
Unquote

The 54th African National Congress (ANC) conference resolution on land expropriation without compensation brings into sharp focus the challenges of land reform including the slow pace and high land prices that have distorted the land market impeding speedy redress of land imbalances.

In his first State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa committed the government to "accelerate the land redistribution programme not only to address a grave historical injustice, but also to bring more producers into the agricultural sector.

In this context he committed the government to "pursue a comprehensive strategy that makes effective use of all the mechanisms at our disposal" and that this strategy will include consideration of expropriation without compensation in light of the resolution of the 54th African National Congress conference.

During the State of the nation debate, the President further emphasized that the dispossession of land through the 1913 Natives Land Act was apartheid`s original sin. Its consequences are still felt in our society today and make no mistake it must be addressed.

In line with the Parliamentary process now underway to consider the possible amendment of the constitution to provide for expropriation of land without compensation, my department will contribute to the debate including providing our position on the Constitutional modalities and policy implications.

In pursuit of radical socio economic transformation, we are determined to ensure that land ownership becomes an economic asset for our people.

While the Parliamentary process unfolds, the department will continue to advance land reform through existing programmes of land restitution, land redistribution and land tenure reform using the existing constitutional provisions to argue for limited compensation including in cases such as the return of land to labour tenants and farm dwellers. The establishment of the Office of the Valuer-General and the utilization of the current provisions of the constitution have already begun to yield positive results on the prices paid for land acquisition.

We intend to introduce in this financial year, the Regulation of Agricultural Land Bill which if implemented in conjunction with the Property Valuation Act of 2014 will give impetus to Section 25 on the principle of just and equitable compensation. The Regulation of Agricultural Land Bill seeks to provide a framework to introduce land ownership ceilings on agricultural land.

We will continue to use the full potential of existing laws to fast track rural development and land reform.

Honourable Chairperson, the current unlawful land occupation that we have observed across the country is a reflection of the frustration of our people with the pace of land reform.

Despite the progress registered to date, there doesn`t appear to be meaningful economic impact to the livelihood of our people. The perpetuation of the dual economy continues unabated.

The fundamental question for us is what we will do differently to fully open the gates of economic development for our people.

To improve efficiencies in the land restitution program we commit to strengthen the capacity of the Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights. This will include consideration of a suitable operating model, a redesign of the claims process to reduce the unnecessary bureaucracy to fast track settlement of claims.

Honourable members, to date, we have settled 80 664 claims benefitting 2, 1 million beneficiaries at the cost of R40 billion inclusive of financial compensation to beneficiaries. 163 463 of these are female-headed households. To date we have restored 3, 5 million hectares of land which can be used as a catalyst to change the lives of our people who are still stuck in the second economy. Land without the requisite support fails to unlock the full value chain.

In this financial year we will pursue aggressively the strengthening of integrated development to ensure that land access yields broader economic spin-offs. There are systemic challenges which form barriers to the progress of our land reform beneficiaries. To support black farmers, preferential allocation of water rights, infrastructure provision and access to markets will be intensified. These gaps must be closed.

In the 2018/19 financial year, we intend to settle 1 151 land claims at a cost of R2 billion. We will also prioritize post settlement support on restituted farms, R700 million has been set aside for this purpose.

In 2017, the Double Drift Community claim was settled with the community of 1500 members, receiving 1300 hectares of land in the Eastern Cape which constitutes 21 farms and is now the Double Drift Nature Reserve. They will be piloting a game farming project.

Another one of earliest and largest land restitution claims settled is that of the Ravele community in Limpopo province. The transfer of this land was done in 2005.The Communal Property Association has since made great strides in making the land productive and thus contributing to food security in our country. The CPA continues to record profits and has been exporting their produce, macadamia and avocados amongst others, to Europe, China and other markets.

I am pleased to announce that representatives of the Ravele CPA are in attendance today.

Our challenge is to ensure sustainability of this successful example of land restitution and to replicate it so that it becomes the norm and not the exception.

The Land Redistribution program remains key to provide access to land to the previously disadvantaged persons.

Since 1994, through the land redistribution programme, we have acquired 4.8 million hectares of land at a cost of R17 billion. Of the 4.8 million hectares, 4 million is agricultural land and 779 000 hectares was land acquired and allocated to labour tenants and farm dwellers for tenure reform purposes. The department has recapitalized 1675 farms equating to 1,5 million hectares at a cost of R4.8 billion.

During this current financial year, the department plans to acquire 98100 hectares of land through the Pro-active Land Acquisition Strategy, financial partnerships as part of operation Phakisa Initiatives. Labour tenants and farm dwellers will be prioritised.

Finally, the department will pilot 18 farms to support the accelerated land development and redistribution initiative to support peri-urban agriculture and the revitalization of rural towns. The Total budget of R1, 2 billion is set aside for the acquisition of land to support these programmes.

Governance issues in Communal Property Associations have been one of the key challenges affecting sustainability of the land reform programme. We have recently tabled the CPA amendment Bill and we hope progress in its enactment will be made in the current financial year. The Bill provides for the establishment of the Office of the Registrar which will improve the capacity to monitor, train and deal with conflicts that may arise.

It is shocking that in 2018, 24 years after we achieved democracy, illegal evictions, and human rights abuses on farms still persists. It has recently come to my attention that in some parts of the country, people face the indignity of not being able to bury their loved ones on land they have resided on for most of their lives. These kinds of incidents undermine the land rights culture that we are trying to instill.

In this regard, we will focus on improving the security of farm dwellers through the amendments that are currently been proposed in the ESTA (Extension of Security Tenure Act).

In the State of the Nation address, the President instructed that an assessment should be done of all farms acquired through the land reform programmes; Honourable Chairperson, I am pleased to announce that we have already embarked on this exercise with regard to farms acquired through PLAS (Proactive land Acquisition strategy).

To date, we have finalized the assessment of the Western Cape Province. Work in all other provinces is underway and is intended to be completed by November 2018.

The results of this assessment will assist government in accelerating development support for economic transformation through identification of training requirements, socio economic conditions and infrastructure support.

The Department completed the state land audit in 2012. Early this year, we have released Phase 1 of the Private land audit. Although there may be certain limitations to the data provided regarding race disaggregation, it provides a stark picture of the inequality that still perpetuates in our land ownership patterns. The report is very clear that as regards individual land ownership, black South Africans still lag far behind and own only 4% of land.

The next phase of the audit of private land will focus on disaggregating information as regards ownership of land by companies, trusts, CBOs, etc. This phase will commence in the current financial year and we will work with other key stakeholders to access the necessary information which we believe will contribute to the modalities of land reform.

However, as South Africans, we must accept that even without the finer details that will come forth from this phase of the audit, since 1995 only 10, 2% of 82 million hectares of agricultural land has been redistributed.

This means that we have not yet managed to redress the landlessness caused by apartheid. It means that we have not brought to fruition the covenant that Madiba spoke of, the "covenant to build a society in which all South Africans, black and white, will be able to walk tall, and assured of their inalienable right to human dignity".

To contribute to improved land administration and economic transformation, the department initiated, in 2014, the Alignment of Deeds Registries` Areas of Jurisdiction to Provincial Boundaries programme. It is aimed at aligning the deeds registries` areas of jurisdiction to provincial demarcations as articulated in Section 103 of the Constitution and to ensure that each Deeds Registry services the province in which it is located, making it accessible to clients.

Under this programme, the Department has already achieved significant milestones, amongst these being the establishment of the Limpopo Deeds Office in Polokwane on 3rd April 2017, the separation and transfer of all physical and electronic Eastern Cape records from the Cape Town Deeds Registry.

Honourable Chairperson,

Rural development remains key to economic transformation of the poor in rural areas. To this end, 5448 jobs were created through the rural development programme in the past year.

For 2018/2019, we will focus on bringing into operation 9 (nine) Rural Economic Zones originally anchored and pursued under the Agri-Park programme. The Agri-Park initiative will catalyze the development of the surrounding area including integrated human settlements, and making them a hive of economic activity thereby creating jobs, reducing inequality, poverty and unemployment.

The key aim of this initiative is to ensure that our people in the second economy fully participate in the economic value chain including market access. We will also provide infrastructure and enterprise support to rural economic enterprises and this we believe will serve as a catalyst for the economic development, revitalization and establishment of new rural towns.

For this programme to gain momentum, support will be required from various stakeholders.

Honourable Chairperson, as I conclude, let me reaffirm our commitment to improve our efficiencies in implementing all programs and the general state of governance in the department. In order to ensure maximum impact of the rural development and land reform programs the department is rolling out a program alignment and consolidation exercise.

In the past financial year, the Department received an unqualified audit opinion, while the Deeds Trading Account and Agricultural Land Holdings Trading Account received clean audits. We reiterate our commitment to continue to improve good governance including our performance on payment of invoices within 30 days.

The path towards giving our people land is hard, perhaps it even appears impossible, but let us remember that our Icon, Utat` uMadiba taught us that things always seem impossible until they are done.

With these words, Honourable Chairperson, I present Department`s 2018/2019 budget.

Branches 2018/19 2019/20 2020/21
R`000

R`000

R`000
Administration

1,825,416

1,869,203

1,992,908
NGMS

690,437

744,603

790,578
Rural Development

1,814,515

1,924,483

2,035,460
Restitution

3,371,024

3,603,590

3,810,703
Land Reform

2,723,851

2,907,931

3,076,052

TOTAL

10,425,243

11,049,810

11,705,701

I thank you.

     
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