Post SoNA Media Briefing by Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti
22 Feb 2013
Panel: Minister Gugile Nkwinti, Rural Development Minister, Ms Mfondo Goboto, Chief Land Claims Commissioner, Elton Greeff, Chief of Staff Rural Development
Statement by Minister Gugile Nkwinti See Appendix
Questions and Answers [This transcript is provided by GCIS]
Journalist: Minister you were quoted by SAPA on the visit I think to Paarl regarding foreign land ownership and I just want to know how this is going to work? Does that mean urban and rural land? Will it be entirely banned or will permanent residents be allowed land title and isn’t this idea somewhat contradictory to the sort of Pravin Gordhan’s friendly foreign direct investment approach. Could you give us a picture of what’s going on there?
Journalist: Minister Nkwinti I would like to ask on two issues firstly on the constitutionality issue when you were talking about the codification of what the lawyers are doing. Are you talking about the change in the Constitution? You were quoted last year as [saying] that the constitution needs to change if that is needed for land reform to become fast-tracked. The land audits - firstly was the Ngonyama Trust included in the 22% that the states says it owns? Secondly, I listened to Public Works in their portfolio committee and they still don’t know what our asset register is and the reason they give is that they don’t know what land the state owns in South Africa so maybe you can teach them a thing or two or explain the contradiction to us. Then the modality of how the 78% our land audit of private land is going to be done whether there is anything about that and finally whether you are going to make this land audit that you’ve already finished public? And if I could come back to the constitutional issue much of the problem with the settling of the claims by some of the Khoi-San might be that much of this land was owned before written records existed. Do you foresee that might be a bit of a stumbling block?
Journalist: Just a follow on the question on the land audit when or will we be granted access to the ownership ratios of private land and also how much of government owned land especially agricultural rand is fellow versus that is actually producing anything at the moment. So when will we get those finer details as opposed to just the 22% versus 78% thank you.
Journalist: The fact sheet states that the breakdown in nationality and race in the privately owned parcels is still outstanding when that can be finalised and when will we have an idea of that. And just on the Khoi-San how is the department going to go about quantifying and identifying this land pre 1912 and I think we all know the Khoi and the San were semi-nomadic people and are we not raising their hopes a bit because I think it was the PAC president who said this week that it’s a delicious pie in the sky. Are we not raising people’s hopes when we are going back to far? Thank you.
Journalist: Minister 2014 in terms of 30% land reform target it won’t be reached its clear do you think that there is a need for another timeframe to set in terms of achieving the 30%? If that is the case which year do you think you should set it as a timeframe I mean timeframe it indicates how serious Government is on the issue. Thank you.
Journalist: Minister firstly on the foreign land ownership ban will that be on agricultural land or all land, residential as well? Then on the question of just and equitable rather than willing seller/willing buyer, how do you think that is going to make land acquisition cheaper? Thanks.
Journalist: Minister when you say that we are now less concerned about the quantity of hectares redistributed but about recapitalisation and development. I’m sorry for a lack of a better phrase, but it sounds like a ‘cop out’ when Government says that we are no longer interested in how much land we are redistributing but about other things and you have come under severe criticism. You are right about this thing but out there it won’t be viewed in a positive light.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti: Well let me start with the last one you know I wish we could actually achieve whatever targets particularly the 30% which has been set. It is very difficult to achieve it if you have 71 292 people opting for financial compensation because there is poverty, unemployed, income inequality it is very difficult. If you look at the bigger picture in the country in terms of those three indicators it tells you there is a problem. Also it tells you because it is almost 100 years ago that a lot of people actually moved to the urban areas we are shocked when people say no we don’t want land we want money we are not even interested in farming but we want money. They claim because they want money they were there so it is something that I was saying assumptions is very difficult to understand what were the assumptions underlying the target. One of the assumptions probably was that people want to go back to land essentially. It is proving to not be the case so we have to do a lot of hard work we have recapitalised as I was saying now the 696 you go there you meet with the people even in all of these workshops that we are running some of you were there these are old people, old women we ask them where’s your children. We’ve got a very successful programme in the Free State where are these children these are all men they are very successful but where are the children one of them said I want to buy a Mercedes bens these things are nice, I asked him hey old man what are you going to do with this and then he said no my son who lives in the township wants it. So the son sees there’s a lot of success they are making money this is what we referred to as a flash-ring class of African farmers. So it is not so much that there is either this or the other it is both of them together going if we can reach that it is fine. The second part about the target 30% the assumption perhaps the perception that is created in the minds of people is 30% and that’s it the 30% was a target given as a milestone moving forward. When we talk about equity it tells you that it can’t be because 30% is 24.5 million hectares of land out of 82 million hectares that is the reference point. So it basically was a measure but the other third leg or pillar of land reform which is development was it not all together all that we did was simply say I’m going to take off the baseline again reducing the ability to acquire land more took 25% of that and said this 25% is going to recapitalisation from 1995. So when we talk about recapitalisation we talk about 1995 of course there are people who went to the banks and so on and a lot of those people lost their land because they couldn’t service the loans. They have lost their land back to the white commercial farmers from whom the land was acquired so we have had this leakages as well so the assumption therefore there are things which clearly show that assumption wasn’t thought out very carefully. This is a constitutional principle what we haven’t done which is why again land restitution is very slow you see the constitution says we must enact legislation and other measures to achieve this to effect this provision and we haven’t done that. So we are doing it now you see you can’t say just because somewhere in the constitution it allows for expropriation you see the worst thing we could do is to rely on expropriation for restitution then in fact we would be shifting responsibility from us to the courts.
Now part of that shifting responsibility from us to the courts would mean because we have not put in place those measures sufficiently to enable us to move fast we’ve got only one act the Restitution Act. Now what then would happen if you are to use restitution that a court would then make policy and legislate on your behalf as the executive that would have been a major weakness in the manner in which we would have been going about this programme? So we have to quantify what the constitution means and agree on that. So the just and equitable principle in the constitution must be translated into policy and legislation so that the courts are not burdened with what otherwise should have been done by the executive and that’s what we are correcting.
How the lawyers would quantify as I say I’ve given them two weeks and I hope they will come through with that and when they do we will make it available because I know there will be lots of debate on that.
Will it be all land? No look we are talking about state and public land we said state and public land will be leased hold and so on but right now we are talking about the 82 million hectares of agricultural land. They’ve got farms everywhere in the country whether they are game or whatever commodity, foreign nationals they’ve got land there. So when we talk about land owned by foreign nationals we are talking about agricultural land the 82 million hectares across the country. The question of land in other spaces in the country is a question that we are discussing with public works and other departments which have got land vested in them that we are discussing with them particularly because of our proposal of the Land Management Commission. You remember that in the Green Paper there are those institutions and one of them is that one. When I presented to the Cabinet last Wednesday we all agreed on the end that this is a very comprehensive proposal the Land Management Commission because this commission goes beyond agricultural land it then affects land that is controlled by other departments and therefore it will also affect foreign land owners because these are properties we are talking about. So that one will be dealt with through the Land Management Commission for now we are talking about agricultural land that is the one that we say there is non-South Africans will not own land they will lease land. The process is that we are busy with the audit which then takes me to the question which was raised. We want to audit all the land we have done the state land, the privately owned land now what we don’t have is nationality and race because in 1994 when we took over as a democratically elected government remember one of our strongest pillars is non-racialism so we were too quick to do away with race as part of defining elements or indicators because as we make progress in terms of non racialism in society it has to do with resources as well. We have to check to what extent are we actually doing that redistributing resources in the country in terms of race because apartheid was based on race if you want to fight racism of apartheid you have to know how many people in terms of race have moved from point A to point C over a time and then you can measure that and say we are making progress in terms of building non-racialism in so far as the ownership of resources is concerned.
So our records in the deeds registration don’t reflect race so since 1994 you don’t know now how many people are from Europe, America or the north of the continent or Asia and so on. You can’t use the deeds registration system to get that you have to check with Home Affairs, DTI, Justice and Stats South Africa so we are busy working through that now because it is a legal requirement that there should be no such identifications of people. So we are working with them to just deal with the last part because we know privately owned land, we know state owned land and now we are dealing with this part which says nationality and race once we conclude that the policy we are working on a policy that has broadly been accepted by the governing party we are working on the policy as government to make sure as we do so once we finish that from that moment when the policy kicks in moving forward foreign nationals will only lease land on a long lease basis minimum of 30 years. I’m focussing on agricultural land remember Donald was saying with regards to public land but we are working together because we are looking at public land so that land which is held by other departments and other entities and not the land that we talk about that is agricultural land so that we can sort that out as well.
Part of the problem we are dealing with is the fragmented land management services system in South Africa even in agricultural land if people want to do a division they will go to whatever municipality or province for re-zoning. There is no obligation to register that with the deeds registration system so you might sit here thinking this parcel is owned by one entity or person in the mean time they have done some re-division of that land and even re-zoned that land and in the division one portion of it is owned by somebody else it is not registered with the deeds registration system in Pretoria. So you have that fragmentation which we have to deal with the Land Management Commission.
Journalist: Minister can I follow up on that answer. I’m interested in the assumptions behind this foreign land ownership question like the 30% land target it has become a sort of fix of government now because according to the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, foreign land ownership is somewhere around 1% of agricultural land and perhaps even less if you exclude the urban areas like Clifton where they own lots of big houses. So why it is such an important ingredient why is it seen as an area of potential great conflict and antagonism to the Government’s friendly policy to foreign direct investment.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti: No Donald it is not correct to say antagonism we are actually transforming our country from a race based system of apartheid to a non-racial system of governance. We have an obligation to do that for our country for the sake of our country before you think about whether you like somebody or you don’t it’s got nothing to do with that. It’s got to do with our historical responsibility to do that so as we do so we can’t say oh there are people who are from outside who are investors here we must be friendly to them we can’t touch that. If we are saying to South Africans we will limit the extent of your holding in order to have land to redistribute we can’t leave them out of that process just because they are here and they are investing we are very friendly to them. We are going to meet with them and explain to them this policy we have had a couple of them we had interaction with the Germans we met with them a year ago in Pretoria, explained to them and they understand. We met with the delegation here from Europe last year and we are going to meet with the ambassadors to explain to them because they have to understand the context properly so that they can continue to invest in our country.
Yes we will make the land audit public and I’m starting now from top again the question of permanent residence there are South Africans to who live overseas remember that person who is a permanent resident in South Africa will be treated in terms of the freehold with limited extent still even the foreign nationals who own land it’s not as if in that lease hold they will be free from the limited extent they won’t be free from the limited extent because land is land all of them whether it is privately owned or a lease they will be subjected to that limited extent.
The Ingonyama Trust; I don’t know if I got this I wanted to show you something when you look at the ownership indication in Kwa-Zulu Natal it is neck and neck the state and private ownership because Ingonyama Trust owns about 48% of land in KwaZulu-Natal. I thought the graph was here, I want the graph guys please go get it. My copy which I had in parliament I handed it over to the media with the speech. Now you can see there if you look at Ngonyama Trust you can see how they have actually levelled off the ownership proportion in KwaZulu-Natal between the state and privately owned. So all you need to do in KwaZulu-Natal is to deal with the tenure issue both ways because the Trust is generally communal land so you’ve got to deal with the tenure issue there. In terms of ownership they are balanced between the State and privately owned and then when you deal with the tenure system it will be a mixture of communal and private. You may find that in fact at some point when you discount this thing called race you will find in terms of whether it is privately or state owned it will move in terms of privately owned because in there in the Trust there is privately owned land whatever form of tenure it will be. So it is very interesting in KwaZulu-Natal when you see the graph and you compare that with what’s happening in other provinces but mainly Northern Cape you can see that.
The 78%, I think I spoke about these are proportions we are talking about you can see remember what the state interest is here, the state interest is to balance it is to bring on board equity in the ownership of resources. The state doesn’t have this inherent interest in ownership as it is portrayed to have the state’s responsibility is to ensure that it redistributes part of the redistribution is to make sure that which it has is protected so that it doesn’t leak back to what was happening during the first couple of years of the restitution process in our country.
No written record, yes that’s true but that’s not what the Khoi and the San will tell you they will say in every cave they have paintings they will tell you that is a written text it tells we were there so there shouldn’t be a problem there.
Remember as the baseline increases our ability to service land also increases because I haven’t shifted from the 25%, I still think it is enough we are spending the money very well. We have a good partnership with commercial farmers across the country it is very little in the Western Cape just about 12 projects here, 19 in the Eastern Cape the next one is Northern Cape, 39 projects there but as you move towards that 696 there’s a lot of work that is happening at the moment. We are looking at 416 this financial year and we will see how it turns out but that’s the land we are talking about but also the land that you are talking about is the land that’s in the communal land areas that’s the point I was talking about with land tenure system to say that’s really where we would like to focus on.
Journalist: Speaking off the microphone
Minister Gugile Nkwinti: We are very serious about targets this thing about targets I have just explained it if you chase the numbers you will make them but you will have no money to service the land and that’s a problem. So as we are giving people land we are also providing the necessary support that 25% we are talking about is to service those people who give land. There was an honourable member he raised this matter sharply to say just because land is in the hands of black people doesn’t mean this will result in food and security. The fact of the matter is this because there was over emphasis on our part on transfer of land both in terms of redistribution and restitution we ignored development as a result of this a couple of things happened people got the land and they couldn’t use the land. They went to the banks got loans there and couldn’t service the loans and those banks repossessed the land and auctioned it out to people who could buy them and they were bought. It is our fault we could have followed up with support system which we didn’t have at the time so we created that kind of problem by not having that kind of programme.
When we came in 2009 perhaps if you followed what I have been saying a couple of years now we had to put up R208m straight away we didn’t budget for it with the Land Bank to stop that auctioning we put up that money and we started working back with the Land Bank so that you protect that land and I must say it is not just black people it was everybody who had a loan with the Land Bank that was the problem. So I think I have dealt with your questions. Thank you.
Journalist: Sorry Minister I don’t know if I missed something has the entire land audit been completed or have you completed which was determining state versus privately owned and now you are moving on to other sectors where you say you are not sure about nationality at this stage or race ratio. And if there’s a second part to it when will that part be completed or has it all been completed or are you releasing more data and steps. I just want clarity on exactly where the land audit is and if it is completely finished. Thank you.
Journalist: Minister I would like to go back to the communal land ownership issue that you discussed at the start of this briefing. Why not just give private land ownership to people residing in communal areas. Why not let each person have a title deed and wouldn’t that be the best way to ensure that there is equitable access to land and not a problem of someone telling a woman that she can no longer farm on a piece of land that she has been working for years. Then my second question is about the reopening of land claims. Is this not premature when you consider that current land claims have not been settled yet wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to settle what is already on the books before reopening for new claims. Also how will the department pay for new claims because there is already too little money and I know that the department wants to do away with the willing buyer/willing seller in favour of just and equitable compensation because the department claims to have been overpaying for land, inflated land prices but even just and equitable levels that would still be closer linked to market value. So it would still come at a very heft price have you had a sit down with the Minister of Finance ahead of the budget speech to ask for additional funds for new land claims?
Journalist: Minister you started off and you’ve come back to the point often on the 30% that you know perhaps if I can use an old adage ‘the road to hell is paved with good intention’, now I’m worried that perhaps you are creating a new road here with the points that you are raising regarding the Khoi-San claims. The first issue namely many of the Khoi-San were nomadic the second being you know that you say it is claimed that a title deed can be found in a cave? One must be careful here I think do you any views on this or are you basically banking them until your meeting in Kimberley in March or can I report you know that you are considering these because there’s a lively interest as you might gather from those who are claiming and those who own title deed to the land. Then on the Ingonyama Trust I still missed the answer to my basic question which was whether the Ingonyama Trust was included in the 22%; maybe I’m just slow? Then Paula’s question on land lying fallow I have done some reading on this issue and many people would include nature reserves and that sort of thing and national parks like the Kruger in the land that the state currently owns. Is this included and if so surely you are not looking at agricultural use for that. Then finally, when will the audit into state land be made public and how?
Journalist: I just want to touch on what Keifus was talking about the first point when you talked about the people who already received money you said about 72 000 but it seems to me that you are saying that we don’t know how much land that actually reflects. I think my question is what happens in about ten years time when we finally say okay we have settled every single claim, land has been redistributed but we still got 95% of land in white hands because most people prefer to take the money. So a lot of people are now saying land reform is very slow it is not happening because we are not seeing black faces on land if I can put it like that because people prefer the money. So I’m wondering how we tell people land reform is happening people just actually prefer money but at the same time telling them so in five years time if we only reached 10% or 15% but we say we are finished there shouldn’t be any people upset about it. I wonder how we are going to cross that bridge because it’s almost as if there’s double issue people want money and then in a few years time they say well now we want land as well. Thanks.
Journalist: A very straight forward question wouldn’t a lot of your headaches and your problems in some of the complexities simply be resolved in terms of communal ownership, foreign ownership, state ownership and all sorts of other things if there was a straight forward introduction of the 99 year lease hold for everyone going back to the principle the land belongs to the state. It is working in Mozambique it is working in parts of London none of those people have a problem with signing 99 year leases is that not making things easier and more manageable.
Minister Gugile Nkwinti: I like the last one. Well you know the land issue on the African continent is proving to be very complex as much as we are learning from countries like Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Mozambique and even Zimbabwe they are also learning from us. Kenya for example they tell us their biggest problem they are facing is this question of land. Our situation is complicated by the fact that those who came to South Africa didn’t come to our country to make money and go they came to our country to stay so we are different. So the ways in which we deal with this question of land we mustn’t see it in terms of just black and white there is a principle underlying the programme at least in so far as this government of the ANC is concerned. The principle of South Africa belongs to all we live in it we don’t have a hang up about people who came to South Africa in the 17th century to stay. We have a hang up about sharing resources amongst all South Africans black and white so it must be understood as a fundamental principle underlying what we are doing. If we were to start from there nobody is going to be confused about what we are doing whether they are black or white. Now you know we are moving in this direction you know the ANC said to me minimum 30 years long lease because I was persuading the ANC to say let us first of all stabilise this land market before we take a decision because in the ANC there is no ideological reason or the state to own land. So when we say therefore that we will lease land out on a long-term basis it is because we have destabilise this question of who owns land where and what is the majority. So we must share this thing equitable so a 99 year lease as I was saying, 30 years has been given to me as a minimum. So this new emerging class of African farmers they are already saying give us title deeds we asked them to give us a proposal and they gave us a proposal, endorse the title that’s what the lawyers were saying at the weekend they say give them title deeds those who can manage it but endorse the title so that you don’t lose the land. If they can’t manage you go out and you give it to other people just think about the evolution of the tenure system in South Africa. The high rate of turnover of land because people were unable to use the land and the state took it and gave it to someone else until you have today what is said to be the best commercial farm regime on the African continent of whites only unfortunately. They came through the same problem we are going through it is not new it will stabilise at some point they will produce food security and they will be guaranteed ownership of land across all race groups.
I’m also talking to the question about what do you do 50 years if you find that land is still as it is now in terms of ownership. I answered by saying this is not an ideological thing it is a strategic thing so it is not just because this land is owned by a white person but what we will do as we are doing now is to say there is limited extent and whatever is above that the state will buy but we will use a just and equitable principle. You see the willing buyer/willing seller mechanism will remain what we want to do is through the office of the value general set norms and standards so that you don’t find the price of the land hiking when the state enters the market. If somebody is white whoever they interested in buying or leasing the land from the state and in our view just remember this and we want to encourage this whether it is foreign or national in our view just because there’s a change in the structure of ownership doesn’t mean there should be a change in the structure of production because if farmer A had a land of 100 hectares and the limit is 50 and the other 50 goes to other people it just changes the structure of ownership it doesn’t mean it must change the structure of production. These people must work together as partners and produce the sugar that was produced in the first place.
This thing about paintings and nomadic you see you are raising a big debate about South Africa as part of the continent it is not just the cradle of humanity is here in this country now when we talk about who was here we talk about who was here at the time we started recording and then the maps are pointing down people came from the north east of Africa and they came down and the landed here and they found the Khoi here and yet the archaeological history says really the Khoi people didn’t leave others left. All of us were nomads at some point particularly the San because they were moving all over the place. It is the evolution of the society so we have to have a record whether they were Khoi or San, whether they were Xhosa or Zulu speaking but now we are a country we have got one boundary and we must share these resources but we must acknowledge one another. So all of those things are what actually makes a nation a nation is made of this diversity but the ability of these people in that nation to forge that kind of unity is critical and part of that is to correct the things that we are talking about and by acknowledge them even symbolically. So the question of paintings is one of our heritage and it is also symbolic and it will show you once upon a time there were people on this land and they were Khoi and San.
This question about parks is a beautiful question the Kruger National Park has been claimed if not all of it a big part of it by people of Chief Moshesi. When I started in 2009 I asked how much money will the state pay they said R20bn. Next to that is the Maluleke Game Reserve a different model was used there of co-management because first of all you can’t restore Kruger National Park to is former owners but you must find a formula of acknowledging that ownership materially and symbolically. In December they asked me to sign an accord, an accord with DBSA with Kruger National Park and in the accord these people are saying we want to be the gateway to the park so that we can gain some of it. So people are beginning to look at opportunities like that so we have to find solutions it might be actually that the co-management system will be the best solution for the Kruger National Park. We’ve got the models and we will use this across the board.
We have done the audit finished we then said let’s look at the quality we then said let’s look at the integrity of the information. We then said let’s do a quality check and we found that 100 585 parcels there were questions that we put. We have finished state land completely but we are looking at 100 585 I think just to do a quality check on that. So as soon as that quality check is completed we will give you the total picture for the country. All right.
Media statement by Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti at a post SoNA media briefing
22 Feb 2013
The year 2013 marks the 100 years of the notorious Natives’ Land Act of 1913, which turned Africans into exiles in their own land. This law was part of the brutal repertoire of instruments of oppression used by colonialists in the 19th Century to take land from indigenous populations.
This law incorporated territorial segregation into legislation for the first time since Union in 1910. The Act confined Africans, in particular, to 13% of the land, with dire social consequences, which are still with us today. As Sol Plaatje wrote that it made the Black "not actually a slave, but a pariah in the land of his birth.
The law created reserves for Blacks and prohibited the sale of White territory to Blacks and vice versa. In effect, over 80% went to White people, who made up less than 20% of the population. The Act stipulated that Black people could live outside the reserves only if they could prove that they were in White employment. Although the law was applicable to the whole of South Africa, in practice it applied only to the Transvaal and Natal.
According to debates in Parliament at the time, the Act was passed in order to limit friction between White and Black, but Blacks maintained that its aim was to meet demands from White farmers for more agricultural land and force Blacks to work as labourers.
Ordinarily, there could be no appropriate, civilized, manner in which this Act could be marked, for, it cannot be celebrated. Doing so would be to rub salt to the wound but, it cannot be ignored either, because its dire social consequences are a constant reminder that radical action is required to arrest those consequences.
It is inconceivable that after a century of struggle, and after 18 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. The Constitution requires that the State must realise the restitution of land rights for those who were dispossessed by the 1913 law.
As the department we are committed and we would like to reiterate our unwavering commitment to restore and settle all outstanding restitution claims. The land restitution programme, which is implemented in line with the Restitution of Land Rights Act (Act 22 of 1994), is a key initiative which is contributing towards reconciliation and nation building.
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 underpinning land reform:
• 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 the department, our task is two-fold: to restore the land to the people, which is a political and moral imperative; but at the same time to restore people to a practical knowledge of the land which is 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. We have been under severe criticism recently regarding the fact that we will not reach the target of transferring the 30 percent of land back by the end of next year, which is what we have conceded.
However, our priorities have shifted to more emphasis on food security. We are now less concerned about the quantity of hectares redistributed but about the recapitalisation and development of redistributed land so as to have sustainable food production.
This is the reason why we introduced the Recapitalisation and Development programme in 2010 which has since ensured technical and material support to land reform projects.
Presently, we have recapitalised 596 farms which are 100 percent productive and have created 4 999 jobs.
We have set ourselves the year 2016 when all land reform farms would be 100 percent productive.
We also want to emphasise that, improving service delivery in Land Reform and Restitution is not an option but a must. Issues of improved service delivery to our people are receiving serious attention by this current administration and my department is no exception to this. This government has adopted the National Development Plan as a blue print that should guide this country to a better economic trajectory by 2030, so for this plan to become a reality, all of us should make our meaningful contribution.
The cabinet has approved the establishment of the Office of the Valuer- General which is going to help us in making sure that there is a fair pricing of Land parcels. We have also completed the auditing of both State and private land.
Last month, the ruling party issued what is known as the January 8 Statement in Durban and issues of Rural Development and Land Reform found expression in that statement. Subsequent to that during the State of The Nation Address last week, the president of the republic also spoke at length about the issues of Land Reform particularly the re-opening of the Land Claims process, so members of the Media, based on these two pronouncement by the president, it cannot be business as usual.
As the department, we are fully aware about the mammoth task in front of us, particularly within the context of the re-opening of the Land claims process and we want to assure South Africans that we are equal to the challenge. In working together we must do more to improve the quality of life of our people. Many claimants have passed on; waiting for the day their claims would come through so we must pull all our collective skills, experiences, efforts together to succeed.
In the words of Nelson Mandela, “To deny any person their human rights is to challenge their very humanity”.
The department wishes to clarify, as correctly stated by the President, that the re-opening of lodgement of claims and the provision of exceptions to the 1913 cut-off date shall take place once amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act 22 of 1994 have been signed into law by the President.
Members of the public are therefore informed that until the amendments referred to above come into effect neither the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform nor the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights is empowered to accept new land claims. A manual in all 11 official languages, on how to lodge a claim, shall be published once the amendments to the Restitution Laws have been passed by Parliament.
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