Conversations with leaders
of dignity and development
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane explains why the issue of land is important in the South African context
As the country marks Freedom Month, government is forging ahead with efforts to ensure all that South Africans enjoy the benefits of freedom, including the ownership of land.
“Ownership of land brings dignity and South Africa belongs to all who live in it. South Africans should not feel like second rate citizens in the land of their forefathers,” Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told PSM.
She added that freedom also means ensuring that the grandchildren of South Africans inherit land.
“Never again should South Africans be loaded onto trucks and taken to live in another area because their homes are on land that is fertile. Freedom means choosing where you want to live and that comes with responsibility and realising that there is no other country that will provide solutions to our problems,” said the Minister.
She added that it was important for South Africans to live peacefully in a country where the land is shared.
The issue of land came to the fore after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address that government should pursue expropriation of land without compensation.
Following that announcement, a number of opposition parties supported the governing party to adopt a motion in Parliament to establish an ad-hoc committee to review Section 25 of the Constitution to cater for the principle of land expropriation without compensation.
Public hearings on the matter are expected to start in May.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the Land Audit report on private land ownership by race, gender and nationality that was released by her department earlier this year, revealed that black South Africans own only four percent of private land in the country.
She said this was a direct result of the historical injustices that resulted in skewed land ownership patterns along racial lines.
“I think that this needs to be fixed. I think it's in the interests of all South Africans to right the wrongs of the past,” she pointed out.
The Minister sent out a strong message to those opposing the winds of change, saying government will focus on that which is legal and just, for which people sacrificed their lives for.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane reiterated that the expropriation of land without compensation is encapsulated in Section 25 of the Constitution, which also takes care of property rights.
“We are working with the Land Restitution and Land Claims Commission who are looking at the acquisition of land, the allocation and
beneficiaries. We want this to be a constitutional process,” she said.
“Government has been willing to buy the land from people who acquired it but people are also dragging their feet.The willing buyer, willing seller model did not work the way we thought it would work.”
Since 1994, government has spent over R50 billion on the willing buyer, willing seller model.
To date 4.8 million hectares of land have been acquired through the Land Redistribution Programme through 5 328 projects at a cost of more than R12 billion. In addition,
3.4 million hectares of land have been acquired through the Restitution Programme.
The 292 607 beneficiaries of the Land Reform Programme include groups, individuals, black emergent farmers with grants and those acquiring land under leasehold. Of these 67 699 are women, 34 410 youth and 689 people with disabilities.
The Minister said the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will continue to accelerate land reform within the current policies and legislation while the Parliamentary processes are being finalised.
She also reassured South Africans that government does not believe in land grabs.
“We have a Constitution in this country, which must be adhered to. Those South Africans who are in a hurry to get land need to know that land grabs are not the solution and will not be tolerated,” the Minister added.
President Ramaphosa has also stressed that land redistribution must be done sustainably and must not be a “smash-and-grab” process that damages the economy. He has also warned that those who seize land without due process will face arrest and prosecution.
She urged all South Africans, investors and the international community to exercise patience and trust the capabilities of Parliament to handle this matter appropriately in the interest of all South Africans.
“We welcome advice…We welcome support but we are product of the struggles of South Africans. We will engage with the international community on the South African story.”
Recapitalisation and Development programme
“The Recapitalisation and Development Programme focuses on human capacity development, infrastructure development and operational inputs on properties in distress and newly-acquired through the land reform redistribution, restitution and other programmes since 1994 as well as other agricultural properties in distress acquired without grant funding,” added the Minister.
The approach is to ensure that the enterprises are profitable and sustainable across the value chain in line with the business plan which stipulates comprehensive development requirements of targeted properties over five-year recapitalisation and development cycle.
The support for the new farmers
varies from production equipment, infrastructure provision, machinery and implements.
Since 2009, 1 496 farms have become part of the Recapitalisation and Development Programme.
“This constitutes a total spend of R4 billion to secure some 651 strategic partnerships providing technical, financial and infrastructure support to farmers across 1 421 846 million hectares,” she said.
The programme has created about 7 730 jobs of which more than 3 000 have been for women as well as training for 2 937 farmers, of which more than 1 000 were women.
The key drivers of the rural development programme include Rural Enterprise and Industrial Development (REID), Rural Infrastructure Development (RID) and skills development.
REID focuses on poverty mapping, and the establishment and support of cooperatives, enterprises and industries.
“This support includes market access, education, financing, skills development and mentorship.
RID focuses on ensuring strategic and deliberate investment in the revitalisation of old, and creation of new economic, social, information and communication technology infrastructure, public amenities and facilities in villages and small rural towns,” said Minister NkoanaMashabane.
The aim of RID is to address basic human needs, improve access to services and enable communities to engage effectively in the economy.
Since it was established in 2009, the RID programmes have delivered over 3 000km of fencing, cattle handling facilities, boreholes, stock water dams facilities and eight silos storage facilities.
“In terms of improving Information and Communication Technology (ICT) access in rural areas, three ICT centres were established in 2010 and a further 26 solar-powered digital doorways, providing computer training and access, were rolled out across the nine provinces,” added the Minister.
About 27 000 learners in 88 schools had been supported with tablets to improve learning and support teaching, helping close the digital divide between the rich and the poor, while preparing learners to partake in the rapidly developing knowledge economy.
Equipping young people
To encourage young people to enter the agricultural field, the department introduced the National Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) – a skills development programme.
Since its inception in 2010, the NARYSEC programme provided soft and hard skills training, leadership training to thousands of rural youth and then sent them back to rural areas to undertake various rural infrastructure and other development projects.
When the programme started, 7 000 participants were recruited; currently the programme has recruited 20 443 young people.
“The aim of this 24-month training and skills development programme is to equip targeted unemployed rural youth with skills in order for them to become agents of change within their communities as well as minimising the migration of young adults to cities in pursuit of job opportunities,” noted the Minister.
The programme also transforms rural youth from being job seekers to become job creators in their own right, breaking the vicious cycle of social grants dependency.