Deputy Minister Mcebisi Skwatsha: Rural Development and Land Reform Dept Budget Vote 2017/18

19 May 2017

Department of ruaral Development and Land Reform 2017 /2018 Financial Year: Policy and Budget speech by Deputy Minister M Skwatsha (MP) Vote 39

The year of Oliver Reginald Tambo, Unity in action to advance economic freedom forward with radical socio-economic transformation

Honourable Speaker / House Chairperson
Honourable Minister Nkwinti and all Ministers
Honourable Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini and all Deputy Ministers in attendance this morning
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee
Honourable Members
Distinguished guests
Acting-DG and your team
Manene nani Manenekazi

Good morning to everyone present.

Introduction

Let me start by thanking the Minister for his stewardship in guiding us as we implement the policies of our government in relation to matters of land reform and rural development. His calm and measured approach keeps us in check as we lead these developmental initiatives.

Discussions on Land are often emotive and consequently it is sometimes easy not to think straight.

When one is in a such state of mind it could be easy to submit to populist rhetoric and abandon your own program.

Honourable Members:

I think it’s  appropriate that we remind ourselves about where we come from, so I thought I should share with you what one Alfred Hoernle , a liberal European with German lineage said in 1939: commenting on the Native Reserves set aside for the indigenous who had been dispossessed:

“… Europeans can own land in the reserves; and reside on it; … On the other hand, no Native individual or tribe may own land in an area set aside for white ownership”.

It is precisely because of condescending views such as these, that during the budget debate last year I said:

“After our victory 22 years ago, we began to right the wrongs, to bring justice to our divided land. We have not done to those who robbed us of our land, what they did to us. Instead, in the moment of our victory, we acknowledged their rights as well.”

In fact our great leader and former President of the governing party ( the ANC) put this very clear when he was addressing the World consultation of the World Council of Churches (1980) when he said

“What was arrogantly described as a civilising mission in South Africa was in fact the genocidal destruction of the Khoi and the San people, the land expropriation of the rest of the indigenous people, the obliteration of their culture in all its forms, the application of a consistent policy for the impoverishment of the black people and their transformation into labour units for the enrichment of the coloniser and the political domination of the majority by a white-settler minority.” - O R Tambo (1980)

So, ladies and gentlemen we should not be tempted and stray from our chosen path of implementing the National Development Plan by revolutionary sounding propositions that look attractive in their appearance but whose content could cause our country more harm than good:  Ideas which could reverse the gains achieved thus far towards building a democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.

Reversing the effects of 350 years of colonial conquest will take some time but we need to examine our policies, strategies and tools so that we move with haste.

Honourable Chair:

Before I get to the detailed presentation on the budget I would like to reiterate what we said last year during the budget debate.

We said we are implementing the NDP proposal of establishing District Land Reform Committees (DRLC) in all 44 Districts which would deal with all applications for acquisition and allocation of land to potential beneficiaries before those applications are presented to the National Land Allocation and Recapitalisation Control Committee at National office for approval. The DLRC have subcommittees called Beneficiary Selection Committees who screen/interview applicants for farms.

These committees are doing their work as we speak. This represents the transformation and empowerment we want. Power has now practically shifted away from a few officials to the stakeholders involved in agriculture and farming.

One household one hectare

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) initiated a land development programme called One Household One Hectare in the year 2015 targeting State owned farms, PLAS farms and Communal land with the purpose of creating rural smallholder producers at household level to ensure food security, reduce poverty, create sustainable employment, broaden the skills base and support the Agri-parks Programme.

Currently, the department has granted approval for 158 sites benefiting 5 734 households across the country and the Minister has already launched 6 sites: Three in the Eastern Cape, one in KwaZulu-Natal and two in Mpumalanga at an investment of R30.4 million, benefitting 689 households. For example 14 households in Gorah in the Eastern Cape have already been producing and taking their excess produce to market: 373 households in Mantusini have also been assisted and a further 22 households in the Libhaba CPA.

An additional 19 sites benefiting 1 294 households are being implemented in Limpopo at a value of R 33 million.

The Department is targeting to provide support to 5 000 households under the One Household One Hectare Programme and it is also envisaged that 384 households will be supported under the new initiative of the one household, 2 Dairy Cows Programme, as spelled out in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of 2017/2018.

The total budget allocation for this programme for the 2017/18 financial year is R611 097 million.

These programmes will contribute significantly to radical socio-economic transformation.

Strengthening the Relative Rights of People Working the Land (50:50)

The overall progress regarding the Strengthening of Relative Rights (SRR) program includes the receipt of more than 100 proposals of which 14 were approved as at the end of the 2016/2017 financial year. To date we have invested an amount of R689 785 benefitting 4450 beneficiaries. 

The following represents some of the 14 approved projects:

In the Eastern Cape we have Birbury farm and in the Free State we have Oatlands, Diamond and Kalkput farms amounting just over 2 600 hectares at the cost of R 36 million.

In the 2016/2017 financial year the following were finalised: Klein Monden Rivier in the Eastern Cape, Westcliff in KwaZulu-Natal, Dabchick in Limpopo, Stars Away, Tweefontein 58, Willowpark 41, Olivenbult 61 and Stinkhoutboom 43 in North West and Solms Delta in the Western Cape  amounting to over 8 252 Hectares at the value of R 56 million.

The department has targeted to acquire 18 farms for the people living and working the land under the Strengthening Relative Rights Policy (50/50) in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of 2017/2018. We will invest R525m to support this programme.

In addition we will acquire 96 165 hectares of land at a value of R422 million to address inequalities in land ownership patterns of the country.

Recapitalisation and Development

There are approximately 1 496 farms under the recapitalisation and development programme since 2009. This constitutes 1 421 846 million hectares amounting to a total investment of R 4 billion. 651 strategic partnerships have been entered into to provide technical, financial and Infrastructure support to farmers.

In line with the job targets set in the National Development Plan (NDP) of creating 1 million Jobs in the Agricultural Sector, this investment translated into the creation of approximately 7 731 jobs of which more than 3 300 are women as well as training of 2 937 farmers of which more than 1 300 are women.

Restitution

The Commission has exceeded most of its annual performance targets during the financial year 2016/17.

The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights – has settled 804 land claims last year and finalized 672 claims.

There were 1530 claims targeted for research during the last financial year. However, the Commission exceeded this figure and researched 1558 claims.

The Commission has committed to concluding research on all claims received before the 1998 cut-off date by June 2017.

It is exciting to note that the Commission which is on the cusp of autonomy has achieved a clean audit in its financial management.

Some of our restitution projects have attained international stature where their produce competes amongst the best in the world.

The Ravele restitution projects in Limpopo churns out R10 million annual turnover with monotonous regularity, while the Nkanini restitution project in KZN is training unemployed youth with matric qualification in sugarcane production.

The Matsafeni restitution project in Mpumalanga is renowned for exporting fruit to far places such as Russia.

All three have succeeded in driving away the frontiers of poverty among their communities by providing jobs and skills for their people.

Honorable members:

Despite our successes we are aware that there are some communities whose claims were submitted before the 1998 cut-off date which have not been resolved yet; we are coming to those areas. Tomorrow the Commission and I will be in Lawaaikamp in George at a ceremony that marks the final stage in the settlement of the claim.

I am also delighted to have in the gallery 87 year old Mr Pakamisa Edwin Mdala from kwa-Khiba in Herschel. He is one of the two people that submitted the claim in 1998.

The kwa-Khiba/Skhisazana claim was finalized last month.

“Siyabulela tat’uRhadebe ngendima oyidlalileyo kwisikhokhelo sakwa Khiba & Skhisazana”

Land Tenure and Administration

This programme has its origins from s25(6) of the Constitution, which entitles any person or community whose  tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices, to tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.

The geographical areas of focus in this regard are commercial farming areas as well as communal areas.

In recognition of the existence of some forms of tenure insecurity in communal areas, a policy was developed. A massive consultation process has been undertaken. Such rights may never be taken away and shall devolve from generation to generation.  The said draft law will be taken through the Cabinet process and tabled to Parliament in this calendar year.

In the past financial year the Department has approved several parcels of land for disposal through long term lease or outright disposal for development of human settlements and commercial development.  These types of initiatives will contribute to increased investment in rural areas and assist in dealing with the backlogs in basic service access.

In this financial year the Department will continue to deal with the vesting of State Land parcels to ensure that development can continue and thereby addressing land administration challenges created through the Apartheid system.

Farm Workers and Labour Tenants

In the financial year 2017/18 the Department will invest an amount of R112 million in the acquisition of land for farm dwellers and labour tenants in order to entrench their security of tenure.

The Department has also established Labour Tenants/Farm-dweller Forums at national, province and district as a prelude to the proposed Land Rights Management Committees envisaged in the ESTA amendment Bill which is still being processed.

These structures will help with both the monitoring of evictions and the facilitation of interventions by various stakeholders that comprise the Land Rights/Eviction Stakeholders Forum.

To ensure dedicated capacity to the task of settling labour tenants claims we have appointed a Project Manager to manage the settlement of the labour tenant applications.  In the MTEF the Department plans to settle 1 434 labour tenant claims and allocate at least 9 600 hectares of land to labour tenants and farm dwellers. We have instructed the Department to urgently settle all labour tenant claims, other than those that will be referred to the Courts.

Communal Property Institutions

The introduction of a land reform programme created the possibility for communities and larger groups of persons to control land on a communal basis. This necessitated the passing of the Communal Property Association Act, 1996 (CPA Act).

There are currently 1 513 Communal Property Associations that have been registered countrywide.  The enormous resources that are normally at the disposal of these entities tend to manufacture conflict that eventually renders these entities dysfunctional.  The CPA Act is currently being amended with a view to strengthen control mechanisms and establish a proper Registrar of CPAs.

The Department has facilitated the establishment of Communal Property Associations district forums in all 44 Districts in the country. 

These district forums assist in the provision of support to CPAs and serve as a platform for the CPAs to share experiences, approaches and lessons on how to handle matters. All fora are fully operational in all provinces.

The district fora will work in collaboration with other structures that have been established by the Department to ensure that CPAs have access to support in respect of their business operations, like all other land reform projects. 

In this financial year we will ensure that 256 CPA’s are supported to be compliant with the legislation.

Land Rights Management Facility (LRMF)

The LRMF was initially established by the DRDLR in 2008, motivated by the need to remedy evictions, threats of eviction and human rights abuses in rural areas.

The establishment, management and co-ordination of LRMF represented an innovative and concrete strategy by the Department to improve access to justice in rural areas.

The key rationale of the Department was to provide dedicated State funded panels of specialist land rights lawyers and mediators in order to provide legal and mediation services to poor, marginalised and indigent people in rural farming areas, to support land tenure reform and to contribute to stabilizing and improving social relations in rural farming communities.

Deeds

In 2014 the Department initiated the Alignment of Deeds Registries’ Areas of Jurisdiction to Provincial Boundaries Programme, commonly known as the Allignment Programme. The programme aimed at alligning the deeds registries’ areas of jurisdiction to provincial demarcations as articulated in Section 103 of the Constitution and to ensure that each Deeds Registry services the province in which it is located, making it accessible to clients.

Under this programme, the Department has already achieved significant milestones, amongst these being the establishment of the Limpopo Deeds Office in Polokwane, the separation and transfer of all physical and electronic records from the Cape Town Deeds Office to the Kimberly Deeds Office; and finalising separation and transfer of land parcels from the Pretoria Deeds Office to the Mpumalanga Deeds Office.

In the 2017/18 financial year, the Department will finalise the programme by separating & transferring physical and electronic records from the Cape Town Deeds Office to the Eastern Cape Province (King Williams Town Deeds Office); separate and transfer Northern Cape physical and electronic records from the North West Province; as well as records from Pretoria Deeds Office to the Vryburg Deeds Office.

In the 2017/18 financial year, the Department will also be initiating and implementing e-lodgement as the first phase of the Electronic Deeds. The Department will also be consulting widely with critical stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of this project.

National Geomatics Management Services

Honourable Chairperson, the Department is also responsible for the provision of accurate geo-spatial information to support development in South Africa.  We continue to take a leadership role in the African continent and participate at international level as well.

In this financial year the Department will operationalize the Regulations for the Spatial Data Infrastructure Act which has been published.  This will promote the sharing of key geospatial information across all organs of State.

The Department has continued to address the scarce skills in the geomatics profession through the provision of bursaries for academic studies in geomatics. Currently there are 255 bursars being supported, of which 85 are females.

A budget of R500 million has been set aside to deal with Geo-spatial Information Management and Cadastral Surveys.  This work will contribute to dealing the structure, systems and institutions which forms critical components of the radical socio-economic transformation.

Valuer-General

On the 29th of June 2014, the President of the Republic of South Africa signed into law the Property Valuation Act, Act No.17 of 2014 (“PVA”) and it came into effect on the 1st of August 2015. The Act provides for, the establishment, functions and powers of the Office of the Valuer-General (OVG).

The valuation of property that has been identified for purposes of land reform; a voluntary valuation service to government departments; the setting of criteria and procedures and monitoring of valuations; and gives effect to the provisions of the constitution which provides for land reform and facilitates land reform through the regulation of the valuation of property.

Valuation Services as at 31 March 2017

The OVG has provided professional valuation guidance to the relevant branches of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR). This included reviews of valuations that were commissioned before the advent of the OVG, valuation services to the DRDLR on its “One Hectare One Household” as well as its “Strengthening of Relative Rights” Programmes. This will continue for the rest of the 2017/2018 financial year.

Development of Regulations

Draft regulations in line with the PVA have been prepared after a consultative process with the relevant stakeholders.   These have been published for comment after consideration by the Minister.

Conclusion

Let me conclude by recapping what it is that we are attempting to do.

We are about addressing the injustices of forced removals and the historical denial of access by redistributing land and through restitution.

We are about ensuring security of tenure for rural people; farm dwellers and TRANCRAA communities.

We are about rekindling the emergence the black farmer who must play a meaningful role in the agro-processing value chain.

We are about dealing with the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

We are doing this work without disrupting agricultural production and food security.

I thank you.