M&G report on WCape land reform grossly misleading - Thandeka Mbabama

MP says DA will be lodging a complaint with the Press Ombudsman over matter

Giving people land with no support does not equate to successful land reform

In the light of today’s grossly misleading media reports regarding land reform, the DA will be laying a complaint with the Press Ombudsman against the Mail & Guardian in accordance with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for South African print and online media, Section 2.2 of the Code which states that “News shall be presented in context and in a balanced manner, without any intentional or negligent departure...”

The DA would like to set the record straight. It is fundamentally flawed to argue that the DA-run Western Cape Government’s success in land reform is solely due to funding sourced from the National Budget.

The reality is that the Western Cape Government’s support for farmers has been crucial to their success. The DA does not believe that simply giving people land and leaving them to fend for themselves equates to successful land reform.

This is part of the failure of National Government, whereas where the DA governs we have ensured and emphasised better support for agriculture projects.

The DA has a proven track record in making grants available to black emerging farmers to support them and ensure that their land ownership is sustainable and profitable.

According to an extensive land reform audit conducted in March 2014 by the Western Cape Government, a total of 62% of Land Reform projects are successful, with a target for the next 5 years being 70%. A follow-up audit is being conducted and will be completed around October 2018.

The ANC government has increasingly opted for state custodianship under their land reform project. As further proof that this idea is incompatible with successful land reform, the High Level Panel Report confirms that the ANC’s land reform has shifted from Constitutional imperatives, such as equitable access to land, towards state ownership that echoes apartheid-style notions of custodianship.

The DA vehemently rejects this notion and fundamentally believes that it is only through ownership that black people can truly emancipate themselves. We remain the only party that also emphasises urban land reform where beneficiaries of state subsidised housing have full ownership title to those homes.

As such, the DA has created 91 000 home owners already, and are distributing more title deeds every day where we are in government.

The ANC is using expropriation without compensation to disguise their failures in land reform. The High level panel report states that: “…increasing evidence of corruption by officials, the diversion of the land reform budget to elites, lack of political will, and lack of training and capacity have proved more serious stumbling blocks to land reform.”

The reality is that nepotism and corruption have been at heart of the slow land reform process while the ANC elite have directly benefited. The lack of training and capacity at the land claims commission has also hamstrung the rate of finalisation of claims.

At the present rate of finalisation, being 560 claims a year, it will take 35 years for all old order claims to be resolved. There are currently 7000 unsettled and more than 19 000 unfinished claims lodged before 1998.

Only if the ANC confronts the failures of their land reform programmes and learns from the best practice demonstrated through agricultural support in the Western Cape can land reform be accelerated.

Statement issued by Thandeka Mbabama MP, DA Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, 13 April 2018