Report of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs, having conducted public hearings on 'the Pace of Land Reform in South Africa' on 18 - 20 October 2004, reports as follows:
At present, the central thrust of land policy is the land reform programme. This programme had three elements; that was, redistribution, land restitution and land tenure reform.
Firstly, the land redistribution programme aims to provide the disadvantaged and the poor with access to land for residential and productive purposes. This segment of the population included the urban and rural poor, labour tenants, farm workers as well as new entrants to agriculture.
Secondly, land restitution covers cases of forced removals, which took place after 1913. The cases were dealt with by the Land Claims Court and the Restitution Commission established in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, 22 of 1994.
Thirdly, land tenure reform is done through a review of the present land policy, administration and legislation to improve the tenure security of all South Africans and to accommodate diverse forms of land tenure including communal tenure.
The Portfolio Committee decided to conduct public hearings so that different view- points from various stakeholders could be obtained, due to the escalating national debate on the pace of land reform. The Committee received a total of 61 written submissions of which 34 stakeholders appeared before the Committee for oral presentations.
1. Ms AT Didiza, Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs
During the early years of South Africa's freedom there were no international benchmark to compare the land reform programme of South Africa with. This made it difficult to have a clear analysis of whether or not South Africa's pace was slow or fast. The land reform programme was thus measured against what is wished for and how the government met the challenges that the people faced.
There were no concrete measures put in place to meet the reconstruction and development programme goal of a 30% redistribution of agricultural land. The Interim Constitution of 1993 provided a framework for land reform, but the land policy was only adopted in 1996, with the first legislation to effect redistribution adopted in 1995.
A number of institutions such as the Land and Agricultural Policy Centre relied on the expertise of individual, civil society structures and academic institutions abroad. Even though international governments and donor agencies gave technical and financial support to the land reform process, few of these resources, if any went to capital expenditure or land acquisition. As the process of land claims registration unfolded, gaps in the legislation framework came to the fore, which led to amendments of the Restitution Act, Labour Tenancy Act and Extension of Security Act. The Communal Land Right Act was enacted to provide the framework for the transformation of rural South Africa.
A better working relationship was needed with the Housing and Agriculture departments so that land reform beneficiaries could receive advice on structures and agricultural development. A better working relationship was also needed with the private sector, which provided finances and developmental advice, e.g. Khula Credit Guarantee Scheme.
The three pillars of the land reform programme should have been applied in an integrated fashion, because land redistribution were not isolated from tenure reform, e.g. the upgrading of tenure in a number of peri-urban environments had to be done.
Consultations were crucial for stakeholders to provide inputs, e.g. after the National Land Consultative Conference in December 2001, an increase in the pace of delivery in land reform was evident. The need for a National Land Summit was expressed to assess what progress had been made and whether or not the policies and legislation were adequate to enable us to conclude this important task. Local forums that included farmers, workers, community representatives and the municipality could assist in finding local solutions for local problems, which could be fed into the national system through a national land summit.
2. Transkei Land Service Organization (Tralso)
Since 1994 TRALSO had assisted about 500 rural communities to lodge land restitution claims with the Eastern Cape Regional Land Claims Commission.. Whilst it was presented with many restitutionary options in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 (as amended), the Commission had since 2000 leaned rather heavily on monetary compensation towards urban claimants. Consequently, very little land had exchanged hands between white and black people as a result of the land restitution programme in the Eastern Cape. TRALSO viewed this as an issue fraught with considerable political and economic implications.
Whilst TRALSO acknowledged the co-operation of the government in respect of at least entertaining the issue, the communities remain appalled by the lack of a clear commitment and direction especially in light of the stipulated 2005 deadline on the restitution programme.
TRALSO and the communities developed the perception that municipalities failed to creatively accommodate the land needs/claims of their constituents within their IDP planning framework. The Department of Agriculture, nationally and provincially, seemed to be locked in its old apartheid mould despite the evolution of such programmes as the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP). The Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy was a laudable conception that transcended the paper on which it was written.
Properties had not been (or were not being) sold at market value due to mismanagement and vandalism at the hands of former lessees. The department of Land Affairs (DLA) implemented a valuation procedure that reflected reduced values.
3. Agricultural Business Consultancy (ABC)
ABC was involved in both White commercial farming and emerging farmers. The farming community (almost all white) had been sidelined from the whole black economic empowerment (BEE) initiatives to a large degree. The focus of BEE should also be on exports and incentives to acquire idle land and turn it into economically viable growing businesses. The agriculture sector was expected to deliver much around Land Reform but it was not accorded high priority. The current funding systems that were in place were not in line with commercial reality and the available amounts were not sufficient to purchase and re-distribute land.
Government needed to find and align itself with the forward thinking farmers of this country and focus on the positive aspects of agriculture and communicate this to the people both at grassroots and at BEE corporate level.
The most suitable vehicle to deliver grassroots change to the people was agriculture but there was no vibrant expanding black owned commercial sector, which could create jobs for the masses. The focus must be on exports and incentives to acquire idle land and turn it into economically viable growing businesses.
The financial institutions, while supposedly making funds available have onerous security and related requirements which prevented emerging farmers to be obtain finance. ABC were of the opinion that these institutions were not serious about fulfilling there obligations to BEE and the result was that little or no progress were made in acquiring land for staff and communities.
The estimated value of agricultural land was approximately R 90bn and for the target of 30% Black owned land to be reached, about R 30 billion would be needed over the next ten years. The current budget from the Dept. of Land Affairs was nowhere close to being adequate.
4. Nkuzi Development Association
Nkuzi was an NGO working on all aspects of the land reform programme primarily in Limpopo Province and Gauteng.
The government's land reform programme had always aimed to improve the lives of the poor and contribute to economic development; the beneficiaries of land reform were just as keen to experience these benefits. Ensuring effective use of land and broader economic and community development were not extras, but fundamental parts of land reform and have to be part of our thinking when we tackle the question of the pace of land reform.
5. Inkezo Land Company
Inkezo was a Section 12 Company established by the Sugar Industry. There was a need for a dedicated Government funding, because the donor environment was restructuring itself. As a result some donors were moving out of land reform to focus on Aids, human rights, etc. Training and mentorship support were needed, but unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy were experienced. There was a lack of co-ordination and insufficient funding. Ability of the willing buyer to raise finance was also problematic. There was a need for researching different models of land reform.
6. South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
The SAHRC supported and echoed the call from the many landless people that the pace of land reform was too slow. At the same time, the SAHRC recognised within a human rights framework that there had been progressive realisation of the poverty rights contained in the constitution that seeked to redress the imbalances of the past. The denial of access to land to the majority of the country's citizens during apartheid was one of the greatest challenges that our young democracy faced.
7. Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS)
PLAAS, which was based at the University of the Western Cape, had been involved with research, teaching and policy analysis in the area of land reform and related fields, both in South Africa and throughout the Southern African region.
The pace of land reform in South Africa was unacceptably slow and urgent steps should be taken to improve both the pace and the quality of land reform.
The reasons for the slow pace were complex, but include the following:
inappropriate or poorly-designed policies, most notably the market-based
inappropriate project designs, that undermined the sustainability of land
reform projects and the ability of poor rural people to gain a livelihood;
limited capacity within state agencies, including Department of Land Affairs,
the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, provincial Departments of
Agriculture and local government;
limited resources, for land purchase and for post-settlement supported;
lack of a holistic strategy for land reform and rural development at local or
The slow pace of land reform manifested itself in the limited transfer of land to date - approximately 2.9% of former 'white' agricultural land transferred by February 2004 - but also in less-publicised issues such as ongoing evictions from commercial farms and lack of progress in many land reform projects (including settled restitution cases). While land reform had achieved some notable successes, these were overshadowed by the scale of the task that remains.
PLAAS believed that many issues within the land reform programme required urgent review, and deserved the attention of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs of the National Assembly. Four broad issues should be prioritized; namely the method of land acquisition, post-settlement support, the needs of farm dwellers, and budgetary requirements.
7.1 Method of Land Acquisition
The current market-based approach policy was not specifically mandated by the Constitution, which allowed room for non-market approaches.
The market-based approach had a number of major implications for the land reform programme:
it precluded a systematic, planned approach to meet land needs e.g.; land acquisition was piecemeal, as individual farms came up for sale;
it militated against long-term and proactive planning by state bodies for the
provision of infrastructure and support services to land reform beneficiaries;
the willingness of the state to pay 'market ' prices ensured that land reform remained expensive, and there was widespread perception that landowners were exploiting this willingness in order to obtain exorbitant prices.
Acquisition of land through the open market proved to be slow, and offers no assurances that the most appropriate land, in terms of quality and location, will be acquired, at an affordable price or at the required scale. To address these concerns, it was essential that the state adopted a systematic and proactive approach to land acquisition, in close partnership with the landless.
This would require the following:
Systematic assessment of all land needs per area, to include demands for restitution, redistribution and tenure reform;
Identification of suitable land and matching this to identified demand;
Negotiations with landowners to release suitable land, on the scale required and at an affordable price; and
The use of expropriation where negotiations did not yield results.
7.2 Needs of Farm Dwellers
Despite a landmark ruling by the Land Claims Court that recognised farm dwellers' right to legal representation at the state's expense, farm dwellers continue to face eviction proceedings without the support of an attorney. The high rate of evictions of farm dwellers from their homes left families destitute, often in informal settlements without any means of support.
The high rate of evictions could be attributed to a number of factors, such as,
Weaknesses in the legislation;
Ignorance of the law on the part of farm dwellers and inability to exercise
Lack of monitoring or intervention by relevant government departments;
Unlawful activity and coercion by many land owners; and
Lack of support from police, magistrates and prosecutors for farm dwellers
8. Ndima Community Services
The Freedom Charter expressed the commonly accepted principle succinctly: The land belongs to those who work it!
The Ndima commented on the pace of land reform in South Africa, because this appearance was deceptive. Critical appreciation of the pace of land reform in South Africa today required attention to logic, language and law. Although there was some common ground, the land question and its issue really did mean different things to different people, especially rival claimants to the land.
Justice would be done to the Ndima comments on the pace of land reform in South Africa if it could be presented within the oral tradition by community land claimants themselves. It was only through such a presentation that the community's comments on the pace of land reform in South Africa could be heard in all its subtlety, directness, honesty, articulateness and integrity.
Perhaps it would turn out to be ironic that public hearings in Parliament under the auspices of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs would effectively exclude presentations by the most marginalized members of the public, who still live, work and play within the oral tradition of human discourse. The grounds for such exclusion would be logistical. However, critical scrutiny of the processes of communication might actually prove otherwise.
9. Die Gereformeerde Kerk