Mabuza pushes for land restitution and transformation

Deputy President David Mabuza addressing delegates at the Communal Land Administration and Tenure Summit. (GCIS/Jairus Mmutle)

27 May 2022

South African Deputy President David Mabuza says the nation is at a watershed moment where the land question must be tackled head-on through all constitutionally compliant instruments in order to effect the necessary changes.

“We are at a 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,” Mabuza.

The Deputy President, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture, was speaking at the Communal Land Administration and Tenure Summit underway in Boksburg, Gauteng.

The two-day summit will reflect on the recommendations of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, and deliberate on the progress made in the implementation of the 2017 resolutions of the Traditional Leaders’ Indaba.

While accepting that land reform is a complex and emotive matter, the Deputy President affirmed government’s determination to walk the path to its rightful end.

He emphasised that land tenure reform remains a critical component of government’s land reform programme.

“Not only is accelerated land reform a necessary condition for restorative justice, but it is a pre-condition for forging unity and social cohesion across the nation.

“Government is committed to ensuring that our land reform programme delivers on the aspirations of ordinary people.

“While the scope of our summit has been framed to cover land administration and tenure in communal areas, as government, we are aware of the urgent need to effect land transformation that goes beyond the 13% of communal land under the jurisdiction of traditional leaders,” the Deputy President said.

Policy to assist in acquisition of more land

Mabuza said government will proceed with the available policy and legislative instruments to 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 Khoi-San leaders.

“We are encouraged that on the occasion of the Indigenous and Traditional Indaba in 2017, traditional leaders reaffirmed their commitment to, among others, the implementation of land tenure reforms and land redistribution within a developmental approach. The indaba also agreed that a summit would be convened to interrogate the transfer of land and its transformation,” he said.

Better prospects for rural areas

The Deputy President said one of the imperatives of the summit is to focus on how to collectively shape the nature of land administration and tenure in communal areas, including governance, institutional coordination mechanisms, and the role of traditional leadership.

Mabuza said the proposals discussed and agreed to in the summit will be refined into clear policy instruments to advance land administration and tenure reforms.

“As we undertake this work, we must rethink the developmental dichotomy that perceives and circumscribes communal land for only human settlements and labour reserves, while urban areas and small towns are seen as sites of industrial development and job creation.

“Instead, communal land administration and tenure must be geared to position strategic communal land for targeted industrial development in key sectors of comparative advantage.

“Within the framework of the District Development Model, infrastructure to support key sector value chains must be developed to concentrate value creation and employment opportunities in close proximity to where people live,” the Deputy Minister said.

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, warned that liberation cannot be entirely realised until the land, and what is beneath and above it, is in the control and command of the majority.

“South Africa belongs to all who live in it, so the economy must belong to all who live in it and land must belong to all who live in it.

“Today’s discussion is most important because the aspirations of the people cannot be met without the land,” Dlamini-Zuma said.

Dealing with land inequality

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, said the summit deliberate on the important matter of land, not only confined to communal land tenure, but it will incorporate the matter of “land hunger”.

She noted that government has walked a long journey, which started a long time ago, where some of the delegates participated in the Land Summit of 2005. This is where government tried to look at what needed to be done to make sure that land reform addresses land inequality.

“We’ve all acknowledged that the legacy of our history did create a very uneven and unequal society.

“Even in post democratic government, we still remain with some of those unfortunate legacies, where in terms of our understanding and appreciation of tenure security of our citizens in terms of their land, there are still tensions that arise as a result of the influences of the laws of our colonisers,” Didiza said. – SAnews.gov.za