Rural Development and Land Reform: Minister's Budget Speech


06 Jun 2011


Budget and Policy Speech 2011/12 by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti MP) at the National Assembly

7 Jun 2011

Mr Speaker
Your Excellencies: the President and Deputy President
Madame Deputy Speaker
Honourable Ministers and Deputy-Ministers
Honourable MECs
Honourable Members
Traditional leaders
Representatives of organised agriculture,
Representatives of organised labour
Private sector partners
Senior government officials
Ladies and gentlemen


Mr Speaker, I would like to extend a warm welcome to a number of important guests sitting in the gallery, and thank them for gracing this special occasion. Sitting in the gallery is a group of special young men and women who form part of our 8000-strong emergent national cadre against the country’s massive challenge of rural under-development (with its socio-economic manifestations: poverty, unemployment, income inequality and cultural backwardness). That is our National Rural Youth Service Corps, fondly referred to as The Narysec. Accompanying them is the Programme’s National Manager, Anton van Staden. The reason why they are so special will become apparent later on in this speech.

Also, sitting in the gallery, is another very special guest of ours, Oupa Veertjie, from Witzenberg in the Winelands District of the Western Cape. Oupa Veertjie is one of a number of recipients of emergency interventions by our department, in collaboration with municipalities, communities and private sector organisations. This 95-year old man, whose daughter and son-in-law visit him only at week-ends, as they work away from home, was living in atrocious conditions.

That is, until our department paid the struggling Prince Albert Hamlet a visit during the Deputy-Presidential War on Poverty Campaign in August of 2010. After that visit his life changed dramatically as officials of our department and the local municipality, with the youth serving as a decisive social instrument, intervened to refurbish his house - painting, plumbing, putting up a ceiling, roofing, replacing broken window-panes, furniture, a bed, a stove and re-installed electricity. Welcome to Parliament Oupa Veertjie and the Narysec youth accompanying you!


Mr Speaker, we have just emerged from the local government elections which, once again, served to remind us of the vibrancy of the democracy we are nurturing. This local election, more than any other one before it, underscored the centrality of service delivery to our people, especially the poor, who are generally rural, including small rural and peri-urban towns and townships like the Prince Albert Hamlet, where Oupa Veertjie stays, the elderly, the youth and the working class.

The department tabled its Strategic Plan for the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period 2011 to 2014 to Parliament earlier this year, which sets out our objectives for the period. This was supported by the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the current financial year. In this Budget and Policy Speech we briefly review progress made, and challenges encountered, over the past financial year, and set out what the department will do during the current financial year, in the context of its broad mandate as well as the five outputs of Outcome seven.

Our land reform fundamentals remain the same: de-racialising the rural economy; democratic and equitable land allocation and use across gender, race, and class; and, sustained production discipline for food security. And, our Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) measurable or indicators remain the same, too: meeting basic human needs, rural enterprise development and small rural industries, underpinned by markets and credit facilities.

Progress review: 2010/11 

The department has strengthened its ‘back office’ organisation, in its continuing quest to improve planning, workflow processes, human resource management and effective and efficient corporate support to the service delivery arm of the organisation. This step is mainly responsible for the department’s under-spending of 2.3% (R171m) during the last financial year, as the re-organisation and rationalisation led to many funded posts not being filled, with consequent non-spending on related goods and services. We need horses for courses!

The Commission on the Restitution of Land Rights has been rationalised to create better synergy with, and clearer lines of accountability to, the department, in its day-to-day operations. The core of the Commission – the Chief Land Claims Commissioner (CLCC), the Deputy Chief Land Claims Commissioner (DCLCC and the Regional Land Claims Commissioner (RLCC) - remains within the ambit of the founding legislation. In the provinces, however, restitution support personnel have been placed under the Public Service Act. Responsibilities for restitution support services will be delegated to them by the CLCC. Chief Directors: Restitution Support will take charge of these delegated responsibilities, and report directly to the CLCC.

The post-level for the CLCC is, from 1 April, 2011, that of the Deputy Director-General. This streamlining of authority structure should result in greater clarity with respect to role-relationships. The Director-General, in so far as the finances of the department are concerned, is fully accountable, while the CLCC remains the responsibility authority. Mr Speaker, these changes are informed by lessons learnt during the implementation of the restitution programme over the years; and, they have one objective – to improve our performance and, thus, service to the people. 

Land Restitution is a complex and emotive issue. Improving our service delivery in this programme is not an option – it is a must. Many claimants have passed on, waiting for the day their claims would have come true. Mr Speaker, we have, on behalf of the President and government, used every opportunity we got to apologise to affected families; and, our people have heartily appreciated this gesture from the President and government. But, we cannot take this goodwill from our people for granted.

We must respond in kind. The department has taken a strategic decision to prioritise financial compensation and state land, while at the same time raising the tempo on solving the more intricate land claims. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the department and Mondi could prove to be an invaluable model in this regard.

The Recapitalisation and Development Programme, supported by strategic partnerships and a Recapitalisation and Development Fund, is proving to be one of the most strategic decisions the department has taken during this period, despite the numerous challenges it has confronted, and continues to do. One of the observations, particularly from some commercial farmers, is that the department’s method of selecting strategic partners, especially as mentors, needs a review.

They hold that in certain instances strategic partners chosen by the department are failed farmers. The other criticism, this time coming from emerging farmers, is that the department’s selection of beneficiaries of redistributive land is not assisting the cause of food security. They complain that land is often given to people who have no interest or ability and passion for farming. Both criticisms are valid; and, have been accepted by the department. The two groups have requested to be part of the selection processes; and, the department has accepted the request. It is now left to the anticipated National Reference Group on Land Reform (the Nareg), working with the department, to develop the modalities. 

One of the biggest success stories is the piloting of small rural towns’ revitalisation. Two Pilot Projects are underway at the Prince Albert Hamlet (PAH), Witzenburg Municipality; and, in Dysselsdorp, in the Greater Oudtshoorn Municipality. Both are in the Western Cape Province. These are two examples of what could be achieved in working together as the three spheres of government and the community.

Dysselsdorp is a good example of what could be defined as ‘an emergent vibrant, equitable and sustainable community’, where generally all sectors of the community are involved the development of their community. The PAH is an example of what young people could achieve, given an opportunity and back-up support. Both have become our reference / learning points in their respective areas of strength. 

The largest single pilot in youth development is the National Rural Youth Service Corps (The Narysec), referred to in our acknowledgements. The Narysec commenced on 1 September 2010. It has since been rolled out in all the provinces, but the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). In its initial phase it enlisted 7 958 young people of between 18 and 35 years of age, with a minimum standard of Grade 10. They have been drawn from rural Wards across the country, including farms, and small rural towns and some peri-urban areas.

These young people, 50% of whom are women and, at least every fourth, one should be a person with some form of disability, have been enlisted on a continuous 24-months contract. This is one of our programmes which offers another good example of collaborative or inter-sectoral effort. It involves the following departments: Defence and Military Veterans; Higher Education and Training (Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges, mainly in the Western Cape); National Treasury (Statistics SA); Social Development (national integrated social information system); some provinces (especially Gauteng, which engages these young people in practical work on farms in the Province); and, some local municipalities and communities where they come from.

Six hundred (600) of these have gone through 10 days of training in self-orientation and life skills through FET Colleges; and, five hundred (500) have gone through a two-months non-military training, mainly character development, personal discipline and patriotism. All of them are involved in household and community profiling, after receiving two-week training in relevant skills. They are each on a stipend of R60.00 a day, which will be stepped up as they receive high-level skills training over the period of the contract. 

During the last financial year, the department has been engaging, on a pilot basis, with Mrs Ma-Zondi Sibisi from KZN. She has been training rural and small-towns people in craft, across the country, with the department paying for her travelling costs, accommodation, as well as training materials. The strength of this programme is that she does not train people without a market for their ware.

The Ministry’s thinking is that she should be contracted to train trainers in the contingent of Narysec youth who have a disability, in particular, but not exclusively, which could bar them from going for the army part of training. This would enable them to acquire skills to start their own enterprises in craft and related commercial ventures.

On a very small scale, the department, working with partners from both the public and private sectors, intervened in areas which had been hit by natural disasters – lightning, flash floods and thunderstorms. We have been providing emergency houses in the form of steel and sand bag technologies, as well as accessories such as gel stoves, solar lights, solar radios and lightning conductors. 

Mr Speaker, these interventions, small as they may be, go a very long way in assisting affected households quickly recover from the shock and trauma of suddenly being without valuable assets; and, provide the government with an opportunity to pilot out new techniques of helping out vulnerable households. 

There have been serious challenges. The most enduring of these is access to clean, piped water for rural communities. This is the one big challenge which continues to undermine progress in our Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) pilot in Muyexe, Limpopo Province. Our sister-department in Limpopo Province has started digging a pipeline from the Nandoni Dam to the Village.

The department has, in the meantime, revived existing boreholes and drilled eight new one. The issue now is the poor quality of the underground water.  Elsewhere in the country, the department, working with its national, provincial and local counter-parts, facilitated the installation of 400 rainwater harvesting tanks, constructed a water reservoir in Msinga, KZN Province; has drilled and equipped boreholes; a water reservoir is under construction in Disake, North West Province; and, a 37km water pipeline, from the Orange River to Riemvasmaak, Northern Cape, is nearing completion.

Fraudulent acts have been detected in some of our programmes, e.g., the Deeds Office in Pretoria, and in some provinces. In order to deal with these at root, we requested the President to authorise the appointment of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to conduct investigations. The President has signed the Proclamation; and, the SIU is already in full swing and arrests have been made. The department will submit reports to the Speaker in due course.

Although challenges were experienced in the e-cadastre implementation in the previous financial year, due to inadequate funding, this project is now underway. The objective of this exercise is to improve service delivery by, among other things, reducing the turn-around time for the delivery of approved and registered cadastral documents.

Consultative workshops: forging a social contract on land reform

Mr Speaker, land reform remains a critical priority for this government and one of the central pillars of the CRDP. In recent years, the Land Redistribution and Restitution programmes have come under critical review both within and outside government. As a result the department initiated a series of provincial and national consultative workshops with all social partners in our sector (Farm Equity Schemes, Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development, Pro-active Land Acquisition Strategy, and other similar former programmes of the former Department of Land Affairs), since November, 2010. 

The objective has been to share with them our current policy, legislative, strategic and operational dimensions. We needed to learn directly from them how they have been experiencing these in their daily lives as farmers. We utilised these workshops to test our future policy and legislative thoughts and plans, including key elements of the Draft Green Paper on Land Reform, as well as the Draft Land Tenure Security Bill, 2010.

The National Consultative Workshop of the 27 to 28, May 2011, resolved that the National Reference Group should meet with the department once a quarter, to evaluate progress on all land reform programmes; and, that the National Social Partners Plenary should sit every six months or twice a year, to provide feed-back to the department on the performance of its land reform programmes, as people experience them. This is a one of the powerful interventions which were made by stakeholders at these workshops.

Priorities for 2011/12: continuity and change

Mr Speaker, with the Back Office having been strengthened, the department must fill all funded vacant posts this financial year, to create the necessary strategic capacity to support line function services, inclusive of the Land Claims Commission. This is particularly important at provincial and district levels, where contact is direct with the people. We will continue to intensify the fight against crime and corruption, working closely with our social partners in the sector and relevant state organs. 

Outcome seven enjoins our department to build ‘vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities’. This requires a closer working relationship between the department and these communities; a relationship which has to be premised on a shared understanding of issues and processes. A deeper understanding of each household deepens insight into challenges facing each individual household and, ultimately, the community as a whole. It enhances planning and effectively directs scarce resources, avoiding a one-size-fits-all development approach.

Household and community profiling will, therefore, continue, covering approximately 50% of all households in the 180 rural Wards over the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. At the cutting edge of this campaign will be the Narysec. It is intended that by the final year of this MTEF period the number of these young people will have reached 20 000, costing the fiscus about R800m. This will contribute handsomely to the government’s 2020 jobs target.

It is a known fact that infrastructure backlogs are endemic on the countryside. But there is no comprehensive, costed audit of this backlog. The department has developed a draft CRDP Norms and Standards Schedule, which will be enhanced in collaboration with other departments and stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. The National Planning Commission is particularly important in this regard. Cost estimates should form part of this process.

This exercise should be accomplished by the end of this Calendar year. Only after such data is available could the department set ‘SMART’ targets on rural development. Without it any targets would be thumb-sucking. The department will, nonetheless, continue with its ad hoc, albeit measured, programmes on meeting basic human needs in rural communities, as a foundation for the next two economic development phases of the CRDP – clean, piped water and sanitation, safe energy, decent shelter, internal roads, rural livelihoods and cultural amenities and facilities. In this regard, the department will need to drastically improve its role as a co-ordinator and facilitator, because of the cross-cutting nature of its mandate.

One major socio-economic infrastructure development project, which should commence by the end of next month, is the Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Legacy Bridge on the Mbhashe River, in the Eastern Cape. This bridge, which joins two districts, O. R Tambo to the East, and Amathole to the West, will cut by at least fifty minutes the distance between Mvezo Village, President Mandela’s birth place, and its closest town, Dutywa.

This project, which will cost about R100 m, creating about hundred jobs over a two-year period, is a partnership between the department and the Eastern Cape Department of Roads and Public Works. The overall project includes the construction of one additional low–water bridge along the road leading to the main bridge. The department is going to construct four other low-water bridges, two each, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.

Two other major socio-economic projects have already started in Nkandla and Skame (Vryheid) in KwaZulu-Natal. The Nkandla project is the brainchild of the community’s Hlalazi Smart Growth Development, together with the Masibambisane Trust. The department, working with other departments, both nationally and provincially, is supporting the community with technical skills, such as design and planning.

The project is at a feasibility and design phase, and should be ready to roll out soon. At Skame the department has laid out bulk infrastructure for water and sanitation for 900 housing units. This project is a joint effort between the department and Abaqulusi District Municipality. 

Food security for all remains high on the government’s priorities. This is spelt out clearly in the Performance Agreement signed between the President and the Minister; and, is one of the five outputs for Outcome seven. But, food security can only be successfully executed with the active involvement and leadership of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. It has got the wherewithal for the successful execution of the programme. The department will continue to improve the co-ordination of this strategic function.

The social partners in this sector have set a goal that all land reform farms should be 100% productive and sustainable during this MTEF period.As a response to this challenge, the department has set aside R3,3 billion for land reform, excluding the restitution programme. Of this amount, R2 billion has been set aside for strategic land acquisition of about 303, 612 hectares and R1,3 billion for making all land reform farms fully functional and 100% productive, through the Recapitalisation and Development Programme. This should cover an additional 387 farms, and revitalise 27 irrigation schemes, which have already been identified across the country. 

Only R2 billion has been made available for land restitution this financial year. It has become clear in our minds that this Programme is not about to be concluded in the next few years. This realisation has forced the department to reconsider its strategy. It has got to actively engage with all stakeholders, current land-owners and claimants, to work out a mechanism which could ease the pressure in this regard. As we have mentioned above, the Mondi Approach might provide a useful model.

We might as well mention at this point that a meeting is in the pipeline, between the department and Sappi, to discuss matters related to claims on land currently held by the latter. We might emerge with another model there. Similar discussions with Sugar SA, held in December last year yielded positive results, which have still to be exploited to the full. This clearly shows that South Africans, given an opportunity, are ready and prepared to work with government to find solutions to problems. We will, also, engage Treasury with a view to possibly re-prioritising allocations between Restitution and Redistribution.

Mr Speaker, rural areas cover vast distances; and, it is necessary to have a Control Survey Network (CSN) which links these areas. Currently, these areas are well served by the permanent beacons. During this financial year the department is going to install additional Trignet Stations to improve the accuracy and speed required to use the Satellite Positioning System (SPS). It is necessary to regularly ‘refresh’ the aerial imagery, which the department undertakes on an annual basis, to track down and record spatial changes taking place in our lived environment. 

Efficiency in the Deeds Offices, and strategies to prevent the recurrence of fraud in that environment, have been increased. This includes the e-cadastre which will be finalised over this MTEF period. The main purpose of e-cadastre is to consolidate the Deeds and Surveyor-General’s information, creating one comprehensive electronic land register. This has positive implications for improving service delivery and shortening turn around times for examination and registration. 

The much needed survey of state land will gain momentum in this financial year. department will embark on a comprehensive state land audit consisting of 1 155 492 State Land Parcels. This exercise will help determine and verify the extent of state and private land holding in South Africa, which should enhance the credibility and integrity of our land registry. It is envisaged that this process should be completed in 2014. 

Mr Speaker, during our Maiden Budget and Policy Speech in 2009, we indicated intention to review the current policy, legislative and institutional environment, for land reform. That project is still on course. A single Draft Green Paper on Rural Development and Land Reform was submitted to Cabinet at the beginning of this year.

The Cabinet advised that the two areas, rural development and land reform be separate for effective policy development and operational management. That process is underway. The two Draft Green Papers are soon to be submitted to Cabinet. The key elements of the initial Draft, as were fairly extensively set out in the 2009/10 Policy and Budget Speech, and further elaborated upon in the one of the 2010/11 financial year, remain intact in the ensuing Drafts.

The process to review the tenure system, as it affects farm-workers, who are also farm-dwellers, is underway, in the form of the Land Tenure Security Bill 2010. This Bill seeks to promote and protect the relative rights of persons working and residing on farms, as well as those of farm owners. The Bill has already been published to elicit inputs and comments from the public; and, will soon be tabled in Parliament.

This draft legislation will repeal and replace the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA) and the Land Reform: Labour Tenants Act (LTA). Included in the Bill, is the establishment of agri-villages to ensure sustainable settlements and productivity for farm dwellers.In this financial year the department will be piloting the establishment of these agri-villages in at least two provinces.

Policy on precarious tenure for land ownership by foreign nationals will be developed to determine the basis on which foreigners can lease or utilise land. A Land Protection Bill, which will make formal provision for this, will be submitted to Cabinet in 2011. 


Mr Speaker, we wish to thank the President and Deputy President for their guidance and support. As you are well aware, land is a very emotive and sensitive issue. It is only through the kind support we receive from them that we are able sustain keep on going, relentlessly, towards achieving the mandate given this government by the majority of South Africans. The department’s tactical thrust remains one of implementing the CRDP in a manner which will make the country realise its vision of vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities.

Mr Speaker, let me take this opportunity to thank everybody who has contributed to shaping this Budget and Policy Speech – from the smallest official of the department, to all the social partners who participated in the consultative workshops, from November 2010 to the last one held on 27 May this year. I hope they will recognise their invaluable contributions throughout this Speech. Building social cohesion takes a lot of social effort – from institutional systems to spirituality and personal endurance. These are some of the critical requisites for sustainability. We are trying to inculcate all these into our veins!

I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
7 Jun 2011

Speech by the Deputy Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr T W Nxesi (MP) debate on the Budget Vote of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform

7 Jun 2011

Honorable Chairperson
Honorable Ministers, Deputy-Ministers, MECs and Members
Invited guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Introduction: The vision of the Freedom Charter

We meet here only days before the 56th anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter by the Congress of the People on 26 June 1955. (By the way, I am referring here to the real Congress of the People!)

I therefore suggest we take this opportunity to look at what the Freedom Charter had to say about land issues. The relevant section is entitled: The land shall be shared among those who work it!

It includes the following demands:

  • Restriction of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land re-divided amongst those who work it, to banish famine and land hunger; (So production discipline and food security – mentioed by the Minister as guiding principles – are present in the Freedom Charter.)
  • The state shall help the peasants with implements, seed, tractors and dams to save the soil and assist the tillers; (Isn’t this what the department’s development programmes seek to address?)
  • Freedom of movement shall be guaranteed to all who work on the land;
  • All shall have the right to occupy land wherever they choose; (Taking these two clauses together, they are clearly directed against the geographic segregation of the time. I am trying to reassure Agri-SA that this last clause is not an invitation for wholesale squatting.

But maybe the point needs to be made, that unless we address the issue of land reform and redistribution with greater urgency, we face the real possibility of land invasions. I am sure I can rely on the support of the Democratic Alliance (DA) now that they have embraced the Freedom Charter.

People shall not be robbed of their cattle, and forced labour and farm prisons shall be abolished. (We may have outlawed forced labour and farm prisons, but we still hear of cases where vulnerable farm dwellers have their cattle impounded.)

Farm evictions continue – often illegally. This is exactly why the department has drafted the Land Tenure Security Bill to close the loopholes.

Obstacles put up to prevent free political and trade union activity on the farms deny farm workers and dwellers their basic human rights. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) and DA are the first to complain when their rights are infringed, but when some amongst their constituency deny basic rights to vulnerable farm dwellers, the silence is deafening.
I also feel there is a responsibility for organised agriculture to educate and police their membership in this respect.

History: The land question

For the benefit of those who developed political amnesia after 1994, let us pause to remember where we come from.

Within walking distance of these Houses of Parliament lies District Six – a symbol of apartheid’s inhumanity and the destruction visited upon vibrant communities in the name of racial supremacy. When District Six was declared a white group area in 1966, the heart was ripped out of the city. So says the District Six Trust, which describes Cape Town as “one of the most polarised and disintegrated cities in the Republic, if not the world.”

Another local example: a community living in Tramway Road in Sea Point forced to move because they were the wrong colour, with devastating results. One of the ex-residents recalls how his father committed suicide on receiving the eviction letter. In this case restitution has been awarded in the form of an education trust to benefit the children of the descendants. And last week Minister Nkwinti presided at a sod-turning ceremony to mark the start of a new housing project in the area.

These are examples from Cape Town. There are hundreds more in the rest of the country. The point we are making is that the hurt and damage caused by apartheid is still with us – and this national democratic revolution of ours will not be complete until the land question is addressed.

So, even as we work our way through the complex minefield of restitution claims, we also have to address the call for fundamental land reform and the Freedom Charter’s demand that: “The land shall be shared among those who work it!”

Minister Nkwinti has shared with us the challenges that face the land restitution programme: the complexities of dealing with competing interests and claims which often require careful research, facilitation and mediation, together with a lack of capacity and resources. With courage and integrity, the Minister has met with thousands of claimants and beneficiaries to hear their experiences and to engage them on how to take the process forward – and, in all humility to apologise for the delays in the process.

From our side, systems are now in place to fast-track claims. But the challenge of inadequate resources remains. I am particularly concerned at the implications of recent court decisions which call for compensation for old order mineral and land rights. There appears to be a tension at the heart of our constitution: whilst it recognises and seeks to promote the rights of the dispossessed, it simultaneously effectively entrenches the rights of vested and landed interests.

I was struck by the words of Honourable Stella Ndabeni in a previous debate when she quoted a learned judge to say: “Whom would the proposed Bill of Rights protect: the victims of the unjust conduct, which has been condemned as a crime against humanity by all humankind, or the beneficiaries?”

Looking forward

The opposition will say I am dwelling on the past – and I can understand why they would want to forget the past. But the truth is that the past is very much with us. Daily we battle to balance the rights of the dispossessed with those of the landowners. I believe that strategically, as a minimum, as part of a broad strategy for rural development, and together with sister departments, we need to facilitate the following:

  • Secure the position of farm workers and farm dwellers against evictions and improve their lives;
  • Revitalise subsistence agriculture in the former ‘reserves’ (‘tribal homelands’); and
  • Rapidly promote black commercial agriculture; whilst mindful that white commercial agriculture will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring food security.

So how do we achieve these goals? First it is not enough to acknowledge short-comings, you also have to learn from your mistakes.

Many of the farms transferred to black ownership failed. This should not have come as a surprise. Apartheid did two things: it dumped millions of black people in the countryside – those superfluous to the labour needs of the urban economy; but simultaneously it denied them any meaningful access to productive agricultural activity. Even basic subsistence agriculture declined. So when we gave people land after 1994 – without providing adequate follow-up training, credit and other support – we were setting people up for failure.

Going forward, all restitution and land reform projects are now accompanied by a viable business plan which includes training, mentorship, partnerships and other forms of support. All of this is guided by the three principles of land reform enunciated by Minister Nkwinti:

  • De-racialisation of the rural economy for shared and sustainable growth;
  • Democratic and equitable land allocation and use across gender, race and class; and,
  • Strict production discipline for guaranteed national food security.

As government, then our task is two-fold: to restore the land to the people – a political and moral imperative; but at the same time to restore people to a practical knowledge of the land – an economic and developmental necessity.

This reflects a crucial shift from the approach of hand-outs and social grants - to a productive model of development which stresses empowering and skilling people to create their own employment opportunities – with the necessary support from government, of course.

Regulating land ownership by non-residents

Even as we seek to restore the land to the people, as government, we also need to guard against the danger that South African prime land – relatively cheap by international standards – will be snapped up by foreign buyers. This has negative implications including:

  • Inflating land prices;
  • The alienation of sensitive land with adverse security and environmental implications; and
  • Undesirable land use changes as prime agricultural land is converted into game farms and golf estates. This is already happening in the Western and Eastern Capes.

These issues will be addressed in the forthcoming Green Papers and subsequent legislation. Vested interests and those in the real estate industry who reject any form of regulation which reduces their profits will not be allowed to prevail in this matter.

We need to make it very clear that these measures are in no way motivated by anti-foreigner sentiment. Government will continue to encourage foreign investment in land – where this is consistent with national interests. Let me cite the case of Australia where legislation seeks to control foreign purchase of existing real estate, whilst encouraging investment in building new housing, thus benefiting the local building industry.

Let me end by pointing to some of the positives which auger well for the future:

District Six Trust

In interacting with the District Six Trust I have been inspired by their philosophy of restorative justice and their inclusive vision for restitution. They say: “Never again will there be forced removals in our country. So we will not ask for the people and institutions who stole our land to be forcibly removed from there.  Rather, when we restore the justice that is due to the victims of apartheid in District Six, we shall hold the perpetrators of that crime accountable, not as criminals from whom we wish to extract revenge, but as partners who can contribute to making our nation whole and vibrant again.”

Let me add that the Trust’s vision for a restored District Six goes way beyond the previous owners – mostly so-called coloureds - to include tenants and members of the black community who were removed from District Six as early as 1901. The Trust’s objective is to re-establish an inclusive and vibrant community here in the heart of Cape Town, reflecting all races and classes.

We have now put together a team including all relevant role players to take forward the District Six project – which I believe will be seminal in challenging apartheid spatial planning and providing a model for truly non-racial and pro-working class town planning. I look forward to working with the Premier of the Western Cape in this respect.

The Mpumalanga Farmer

I was greatly encouraged by a recent report of a white farmer – Mr Colin Forbes of Mpumalanga – who had donated land worth R4.5 million to empower 50 of his workers who had worked the land over four generations. The farmer recognises the farming skills of his employees, but seeks to mentor them in management skills to make the project a success.

Mr Forbes is reported to have said: ‘If white commercial farmers were not willing to be involved in empowerment initiatives to solve the land reform problem in South Africa, then they should be expropriated.’

I hasten to reassure the DA and FF+ that there are no plans for expropriation at this point.

National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC)

Let me say a word about the NARYSEC youth project. It is a cliché that the youth are the future, but unless we facilitate and provide training and opportunities, that future is bleak.

Let me remind you what the Minister of Higher Education and Training has said previously: there are 2.9 million school leavers in the age range 18 to 24 who are neither in work nor in education and training. This is why NARYSEC is such an important initiative.

I am concerned therefore at the negativity towards NARYSEC from certain quarters. Let me deal with some false perceptions. First, NARYSEC is accused of being some kind of African National Congress Youth League militia. Not true. This is a government programme open to all rural youth who meet the age and qualification criteria. The selection process is completely open and transparent.

The second accusation is that NARYSEC youth are being taught only ‘soft’ skills such as discipline and patriotism. Without undermining the importance of these attributes, let me assure the House that the NARYSEC recruits will receive skills training that directly prepare them for the job market – including entrepreneurship and construction-related skills which have been identified as of greatest need in rural areas. To this end, we are working with the Further Education and Training  colleges to provide training.

In addition to this, the NARYSEC youth will play a crucial role in the broader roll-out of the CRDP (Comprehensive Rural Development Programme). Already the first intake has been trained by Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) to profile households to determine actual needs of communities. The NARYSEC recruits will also perform community service under local and district municipalities.

In closing, we are two years away from the centenary of the infamous 1913 Land Act which turned Africans into exiles in their own land. It is inconceivable that after a century of struggle, and after 17 years of democracy, social relations in the countryside can continue to mirror the patterns of apartheid. The broad mission remains: to restore land, human dignity and respect to all South Africans.

I thank you.

Issued by: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
7 Jun 2011


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