Chaotic land administration system: what is Thoko Didiza and her officials hiding?
18 June 2021
After the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development (DALRRD) admitted in a parliamentary reply that the state currently has 9,8 million hectares of land registered under its custodianship, I made plans to conduct an oversight visit at the Department’s head office in Pretoria.
The intention, captured in a letter that I sent to the Director General (DG) Mooketsa Ramasodi a week before my visit, was to obtain:
- A detailed report on all farm evictions including progress report on investigations and consequence management where officials were found to have reneged in their duties.
- A full and detailed database of all Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS) farms including the number of farms assisted through the ALHA and the asset register.
- A full database of all farms registered in the name of the state, this list must include a section of all farms that already concluded 30 years lease agreements as well as farms with options to purchase.
- A database of all successful restitution claims with original beneficiary lists.
- All policies guiding land reform including farmer development support
- A beneficiary list of all RECAP funding committed and paid out to every farmer.
- Detailed business plans for each Agri-park and Farmer Support Units. List of service providers and breakdown of work completed.
- Lists of farmers supported per Farmer Support Units.
- Total cost of development of business plans for Agri-parks.
- A breakdown of all costs for Agri Parks and FSU
Not only was I prevented from carrying out the oversight and getting answers on the aforementioned, in line with my responsibilities as a Member of Parliament, but Departmental officials went to extreme lengths to make sure that I left.
While I understood that DG Ramasodi was booked off sick, Mr Kgobokoe who was acting in his place informed me they could not assist me in the absence of Ramasodi. This begs the question, does the Department stop functioning if the DG is not around?
What made this experience more curious is that Mr Kgobokoe appeared to insinuate that the order to get rid of me came from Minister Thoko Didiza herself. If this was the case, then it was hardly surprising because Minister Didiza has ignored countless letters that I have written to her seeking answers on the country’s chaotic land administration system.
In addition to being unable to see the land administration database system, I also could not get answers for farmers and communities who had asked me to ascertain why they were still waiting to get lease agreements signed or why their long outstanding land claims queries were not being attended to.
Didiza and her officials may dodge accountability but they will not hide forever. I will write to the Director General again requesting a new schedule for my oversight that was cancelled.
Open and transparent government is needed to ensure successful land reform.
Statement issued by Annette Steyn MP - DA Shadow Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development, 18 June 2021