Noth­ing new on land resti­tu­tion

No new ini­tia­tives re­ferred to dur­ing Zuma’s state of the na­tion ad­dress, de­spite prom­ises to ‘fun­da­men­tally change the struc­ture of the sys­tem’

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

De­spite the ANC and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma hyp­ing up the re­turn of land late last year and dur­ing a state­ment on Jan­uary 8, his state of the na­tion ad­dress (Sona) this week con­tained hardly any new ini­tia­tives. Ex­pand­ing on Zuma’s speech, Ru­ral Devel­op­ment and Land Re­form Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti told City Press on Thurs­day night that they were work­ing to fun­da­men­tally change the struc­ture of the sys­tem, the pat­terns of own­er­ship and the con­trol of the econ­omy.

In the build-up to Sona, the ANC hyped up the “re­turn of land to the peo­ple” as one of the ur­gent tasks for the party and gov­ern­ment this year. But both Zuma and Nk­winti were thin on de­tail, em­pha­sis­ing old in­stru­ments and an­nounc­ing noth­ing new.

“It will be dif­fi­cult, if not im­pos­si­ble, to achieve true rec­on­cil­i­a­tion un­til the land ques­tion is re­solved,” noted Zuma, who then an­nounced his gov­ern­ment’s in­ten­tion to use the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Act to pur­sue land re­form and land re­dis­tri­bu­tion. He added that he had de­cided to re­fer the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill back to Par­lia­ment for re­con­sid­er­a­tion be­cause the bill might not pass con­sti­tu­tional muster.

“This is due to in­ad­e­quate pub­lic par­tic­i­pa­tion dur­ing its pro­cess­ing,” he said.

The re­open­ing of land claims is also on hold be­cause the Resti­tu­tion of Land Rights Amend­ment Act was de­clared in­valid by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court in July.

In the in­ter­view, Nk­winti was adamant that gov­ern­ment was al­ready on the path to rad­i­cal land re­form.

“There is what the pres­i­dent didn’t talk about: the Reg­u­la­tion of Agri­cul­tural Land­hold­ings Bill that is com­ing to Par­lia­ment,” he said.

Zuma first an­nounced that bill dur­ing Sona in 2015. The bill would in­tro­duce land ceil­ings and pro­hibit land own­er­ship by for­eign na­tion­als. Do you think the ANC and gov­ern­ment are do­ing enough to re­turn land to SA’s cit­i­zens? SMS us on 35697 us­ing the key­word LAND and tell us what you think. Please in­clude your name and prov­ince. SMSes cost R1.50 “That bill is go­ing to set the ceil­ings; that is what is rad­i­cal now, it is com­ing,” said Nk­winti. He said that, dur­ing con­sul­ta­tions on the White Pa­per held last year, peo­ple said own­ing 12 000 hectares of land was “too much” and they pro­posed the ceil­ing be brought down by 7 000ha to 5 000ha. “You will have noth­ing to dis­trib­ute,” they said. “That’s rad­i­cal,” he added. Gov­ern­ment had pro­posed the max­i­mum ceil­ing of 12 000ha would ap­ply only in three cat­e­gories of land use – re­new­able en­ergy farms, forestry and game farms. Nk­winti has pre­vi­ously ex­plained that the pro­pos­als on the ceil­ings were to ad­dress the legacy of colo­nial­ism and apartheid. The ceil­ing for a vi­able com­mer­cial small-scale farm is 1 000ha and a medium-scale vi­able com­mer­cial farm is 2 500ha. For a large-scale vi­able com­mer­cial farm, it is 5 000ha. There were re­ports late last year that the pro­posed ceil­ings may change, and dis­trict mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties may even de­ter­mine their own ceil­ings. Any ex­cess land por­tions be­tween each of th­ese cat­e­gories, and more than the 12 000ha max­i­mum, would be ex­pro­pri­ated and re­dis­tributed. Nk­winti said the so-called 50-50 pol­icy frame­work was an­other “rad­i­cal” pol­icy that was also chang­ing pat­terns of own­er­ship. In his speech, Zuma men­tioned this pro­gramme among those gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to im­ple­ment, re­veal­ing that 13 pro­pos­als that ben­e­fited 921 farm-dweller house­holds val­ued at R631 mil­lion had al­ready been ap­proved.

In the pro­gramme, the farm work­ers band to­gether to form a le­gal en­tity and, to­gether with the farm owner, a new com­pany is es­tab­lished, and the work­ers and the owner be­come joint own­ers.

“The 50-50 thing im­me­di­ately turns work­ers who owned noth­ing to be­com­ing own­ers of a busi­ness and they con­trol the busi­ness. In other words, the pat­tern of own­er­ship and con­trol im­me­di­ately [ef­fects] rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, with the di­rect so­cial impact on the con­di­tions of liv­ing, on the dignity of work­ers, on the pat­terns of own­er­ship and con­trol of the econ­omy. That’s what the 50-50 pol­icy is about,” he said.

Zuma spoke about 13 pro­pos­als, but Nk­winti re­vealed there were more than 90 oth­ers that were ready, but his depart­ment was wait­ing for the new fi­nan­cial year to be able to fi­nance them.

While Zuma stated that only 8 mil­lion mil­lion hectares of arable land had been trans­ferred to black peo­ple – or 9.8% of the coun­try’s 82 mil­lion hectares of arable land – Nk­winti would not ven­ture into num­bers.

He re­fused to be drawn into dis­cussing the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings of the much-awaited sec­ond phase of the land au­dit. Be­fore its 2015 na­tional gen­eral coun­cil, the ANC said the au­dit, which fo­cuses on the na­tion­al­ity, race and gen­der of landown­ers, would be com­pleted by Septem­ber that year.

“They have come up with the pre­lim­i­nary re­port al­ready,” said Nk­winti. The re­port has to go to Cabi­net be­fore it be­comes a pub­lic doc­u­ment.

He said the dif­fi­culty with the au­dit was that trusts and com­pa­nies were not con­trolled by his de­part­ments. Trusts fall un­der the jus­tice depart­ment, while com­pa­nies fall un­der the depart­ment of trade and in­dus­try. “They must help me by say­ing who is there,” he said. The au­dit is also look­ing at share­hold­er­ships in com­pa­nies and trust own­er­ship.

“That’s why I don’t re­lease the re­port be­cause I have to per­suade the jus­tice, and trade and in­dus­try min­is­ters.”

Nk­winti re­vealed that, since the ap­point­ment of the Land Valuer-Gen­eral, and do­ing away with the will­ing buyer, will­ing seller prin­ci­ple, the state saved R50 mil­lion in the past fi­nan­cial year.

Gugile Nk­winti

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