Land tenure system to be reviewed - Nkwinti

SONA debate speech by minister of rural development and land reform, February 17 2010

Speech by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti, in the debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address, Parliament, Monday, February 15 2010

The MINISTER OF RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND LAND REFORM: Hon Deputy Speaker, Your Excellency Mr Presidency, hon members, on 11 February, the President presented the state of the nation address as part of celebrating the 20th anniversary of the release of President Nelson Mandela from jail, after serving 27 years.

During the course of his address, he made many significant pronouncements. From where I sat, I picked up three, namely the following: One, rekindling the nation-building project; two, the premise of service delivery to our people, especially the poorest of the poor, and, three, the accountability of public representatives and public servants.

In this regard, the outcome for the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities. This, of course, is the vision of the department. There are four outputs in pursuit of this outcome, namely sustainable land reform, food security for all, rural development and job creation that is linked to skills development and training.

Further to the significant pronouncements that the President made in relation to the government's strategic focus in the next two years of the current Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, the President provided some detail in terms of what he expects the department to deliver on. Among the things he expects to be done is the rolling out of the pilots to at least 160 wards across the country by 2014.

Secondly, at least 60% of rural households per site should meet their own food requirements by 2014. Thirdly, he expects the integration of land reform and agricultural support programmes, with performance measured according to the increase in the number of small-scale farmers that graduate into commercial entities by 2014. Finally, he expects the creation of jobs, skills training and development opportunities for young people between the ages of 16 and 25 years.

Given the progress that the three spheres, working together, have achieved during the first nine months of this administration, there is no reason these specified and many other critical deliverables should not be achieved in the next three years.

The detail of what is to be done in pursuit of these deliverables will be set out in a budget policy speech. The budget policy speech will contain a note drawn from an interesting book written by one Steven Lewis jnr, The Economics of Apartheid. He states that there are three general phases of economic and social development that countries in the world pass through.

He examines South Africa's performance, in comparison with other countries. According to him, the third phase of this social and economic development is increasing the productivity of land and labour in agriculture.

In fact, he reckons, the factor affecting wage increase in modern sectors in the economy is growth in productivity in agriculture in traditional sectors. Wages in the nonagricultural must grow in order to attract people from agricultural areas wherein incomes would have gone up.

In the following passage, he looks comparatively at the situation in South Africa during the colonial and apartheid years:

The land available to blacks has been severely restricted, and for a century government efforts - critical in virtually all successful development - have been directed almost exclusively toward white farmers, with the result that incomes available in the African and coloured rural areas have remained pitifully low, leaving people no alternative to seeking work in the modern sectors, including white agriculture, at whatever wage available.

The subsistence sector as a provider of income to the majority of South Africans effectively ceased to exist decades ago: the population densities were simply too great to allow any but a fraction of the black population a genuine subsistence output; the rest have had to depend on wage labour in white areas of South Africa, both urban and rural.

This passage speaks to the historical 7% to 13% land divide between whites and blacks in South Africa respectively. The budget policy speech will dwell deeper and wider on this question of land reform.

Rural development and land reform is therefore not just an ordinary programme, as the President has indicated. It is a postcolonial reconstruction and development programme. It is at the heart of socioeconomic transformation, where it matters most and where the most vulnerable reside: in rural areas.

The current patchwork of land legislation that attempts to address historical disparities in our country is admirable. It is a product of a particular point in time in our country's democratisation. But sadly, it is too fragmented to effectively address the centuries-old land question in South Africa.

In the Green Paper that we will soon serve on this House, we are opening a debate on the need to review the current land tenure system as a whole. That is the proverbial elephant in the room, which can no longer be avoided. Continuing to avoid this question would mean not being true to the letter and spirit of the Freedom Charter, which states: South Africa belongs to all who live in it; black and white.

I'd like to make a few comments and allay the fears of the hon umhlekazi Prince Buthelezi. We have been interacting vigorously over the past few weeks, with a delegation from isilo nabahlali [King Goodwill Zwelithini and the community] around this question. The last time we were there was Monday last week. It was the second meeting we held in two weeks. We're trying to find one another around this question. This goes to the hon leader of the PAC, who made this point about the role of traditional leaders.

The traditional leaders of Limpopo and other traditional leaders, including the chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders, are in contact with us. We've been discussing that.

We have addressed a congress, through the director-general, of Contralesa that was recently held in Durban, so we're very much interactive with the traditional leaders.

The second point, hon President, is this: I've given you a number of pictures taken at Muyexe, because there is a Sunday Times article (see here), which is purported to have been published after the President had delivered his state of the nation address, saying there is nothing happening there. I'm shocked by that article. It is shocking, Mr President. I've given these pictures to the hon Dlodlo, and asked her to show them to the President.

I can't understand how a journalist could have gone to Muyexe and not see the clinic which has been renovated. There was no clinic in operation there, but it is now operating eight hours a day, five days a week, with nurses. I don't know how that journalist could have missed that last month the hon Mthethwa's department established a satellite police station where there was none, because of this work. I cannot understand how that journalist could have missed a pack shed which has been built new. He actually shows a picture of a forlorn old lady, who probably did not understand what was happening, when there are 36 women who are working full-time on 4 ha of agricultural land, which is being extended to become 15 ha.

Now they are operating with drip irrigation because we built a pump house there and it is working. We built a pack shed and they're supplying Kwikspar. I've given the President a picture of an example of how we fenced 150 household gardens for people to produce and eat. That's what the President is saying, he's saying to us 60% of these houses should depend on their own gardens. That's a beginning, it is there, it has started. [Applause.]

The President referred to 160 wards. It will be done. We are already operating in more than 21 wards across the country and in each of the provinces. There's only one province in which we don't have a site yet and that's Gauteng. But we are going to Gauteng. So, Mr President, there is a good example of what you can see there in pictures. In Muyexe, from August 2009, we have built, through the Department of Human Settlement, not only the 231 houses that you mentioned, but more than that.

There is no house built in the townships that matches the houses that are being built in Muyexe. He talks about water. It is true, but again we went there to test boreholes. Four of them are working now and are supplying water from underground, but we are also working to bring water from the Nandoni Dam 45 km from there to that place. I discussed it with the Premier last week and said we must make sure we are agreed that that water coming to Muyexe won't skip any of the villages along the 45 km from the dam. But that's not the only place!

When you go to Riemvasmaak in the Northern Cape it's the same. We are working there and will soon be bringing water 30 km from the Orange River to Riemvasmaak, both for irrigation and domestic usage. We'll do the same in the Free State at Diyatalawa. If you go to Makgolokoeng in the Free State you'll find that we are working there. We are about to deliver 40 dairy cows to the community of Diyatalawa. We're working with Nestlé.

We have a partnership that is going to buy the milk and they are going to provide the state of the art equipment to revamp that dairy facility there. So, hon members and Mr President, the work is being done according to how you have asked us to do it. That article is misleading the country. Thank you, honourable Deputy Speaker. [Applause.]

Source: Unrevised transcript, Hansard

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