The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (the Department) presented its Strategic Plan and budget for 2010 to 2013. The four strategic outputs were to achieve sustainable land reform, food security for all, rural development, and sustainable livelihoods. The Department must also provide efficient and effective cadastral surveys and spatial development frameworks, an efficient deeds registry, and ensure efficient and effective functionality of the Department. The strategy was aligned with the State of the Nation Address imperatives, in relation to rural communities and food security. The Department stressed the need for an integrated basis for land reform and agricultural support. There was a need to review land tenure reform programmes, legislation and policies, to address concerns that beneficiaries were not always using land in a sustainable or optimal way. A proposal was to be presented in a Green Paper that might consider land as a national asset, with a land tenure system, and ownership by non-nationals also needed to be done. These proposals would be presented in due course. The programmes around land reform now would also include job creation, which would involve profiling households and identifying employment creation projects through which local communities would organise their own jobs and businesses. There were already cooperatives working in gardens and road projects. The Department stressed that all land redistribution must now be combined with support, and 25% of any grant would be allocated to recapitalisation and development. Land acquisition would now have to be linked to the purpose for which it was acquired. Claims would be linked to the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme and land security principles. The Department’s work in regard to geo-spatial surveys was outlined.
Members asked what land would be covered if a State Land Management Board was established, what land was owned by the State, and whether any audit had been done of this land, and what percentage of land in South Africa was arable. Members asked that any proposals for amendment of the Extension of Security of Tenure Act be conveyed to the Committee. Other questions related to renewable energy, whether the Department was equipped to deal with the implications of climate change, and its specific impact on rural development. The relationship of this Department and others was questioned. Members questioned why the budget for restitution had dropped, and the Department conceded that this might need a review, and also asked whether the new categorisations would apply only to future, or also to past beneficiaries. The linkages between the Department’s plans and the Integrated Development Plans of municipalities was queried.
The Ingonyama Trust Board presented its strategic plan, and noted that the Trust was a statutory creation, with a specific mandate in regard to development of communal land, negotiation of contracts and documentation of the orally-created land rights to the approximately 1 500 pieces of communal land in KwaZulu Natal. It faced challenges around identification of land, but also around the review and reshaping of discriminatory clauses that could still be found in title deeds, conditions of sale and similar instruments. The continuing existence of Act 70 of 1970 was also problematic. The Trust generated the majority of its budget and was self-sustaining. Members asked about the application of the National Property Rates Act to land held by the Trust, how this worked in principle, requested that suggestions in relation to certain issues be conveyed in writing, and questioned why the Constitution did not automatically override restrictive conditions. Further questions related to royalties and investments.
The Minutes of the previous meeting were adopted.
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR): Strategic Plan and budget 2010 – 2013 presentation
Ms P De Lille (ID) stated that she had only received the document this morning, and stressed that members needed to receive documents much earlier if the contents were to be properly considered.
The Chairperson clarified that the Strategic Plan document was sent out more than a week ago, and that it was only the presentation, which was based on the document, that was sent to members yesterday.
Mr Thozi Gwanya, Director General, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR or the Department) presented the Strategic Plan for 2010 -2013 to the Committee.
Mr Gwanya identified four strategic outputs for the Department. These were to achieve sustainable land reform, food security for all, rural development, and sustainable livelihoods, He identified a further three objectives as supported outputs; namely, the provision of efficient and effective cadastral surveys and spatial development frameworks, the provision of an efficient deeds registry, and ensuring efficient and effective functionality of the Department.
Mr Gwanya emphasised that the Department’s strategy was aligned with the outcome approach adopted by the President, in the State of the Nation Address, especially outcome 7, which provided for the development of vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all. He stated that there was a need for an integrated basis for land reform and agricultural support. The Department would also be expected to report to the President on progress made and its performance would be evaluated and monitored. However, the Department could not succeed unless a participatory approach was adopted
In regard to Land Tenure Reform, Mr Gwanya said there was a need to review programmes, including legislation and policies. He noted that there had been concerns recently over the beneficiaries not using the land that had been returned to them in a sustainable or optimal way. He said that in order to give effect to land tenure reform there might be a need to consider all land as national assets, with a quitrent land tenure system, with perpetual or limited land rights. A review of current tenure policies and legislation would also need to done. The question of ownership of land by non-nationals would also need to be finalised.
In terms of job creation, Mr Gwanya noted that there had been a fundamental shift in the development programmes around land reform, now also to include job creation. This would entail profiling households to determine needs, skills and employability. It would be achieved through the National Integrated Social Information System. There should be identification of employment creation projects, in line with planned interventions and opportunities in neighbouring areas. The Department would place one member per household per job on a two year contract with Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP) and contract a percentage of income to the household. The idea was that local communities would create their own jobs through co-operatives and businesses. He said that there were already had co-operatives working in gardens and paving roads. He again emphasised that jobs would be created by the people themselves and not through factory employment.
Mr Gwanya then moved on to consider Land Redistribution and Restitution. He noted that it was not possible to have land redistribution without any support. Previously, the focus on the former alone had been to the detriment of support. The Department would now allocate 25% of the allowance of a grant towards recapitalisation and development. This had been approved by the National Treasury. Any land acquisition would now be required to address purpose for which it was acquired. Any land acquisition would also link to the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) and an integrated approach would be adopted.
Mr Gwanya said that any claims settled would be done through CRDP principles, even if this were a rights based programme. The Department would also ensure that any land delivered would contribute to land security. Co-operative support was provided to beneficiaries and strategic partnerships would be promoted. He said that some claims were still outstanding but that the Department would ensure that all were settled by December 2011.
Mr Gwanya said that the Department attended to geo-spatial surveys. Maps were updated regularly, with new streets and roads added. GPS device updates were reliant on the information provided by the Department. The Department had produced a Braille atlas for the vision-impaired for several provinces, and would like to cater for all provinces.
Ms De Lille asked whether the establishment of a State Land Management Board would cover land owned by provincial or local governments, and whether its mandate would include more than just agricultural land. She further enquired whether an audit had been done of State-owned land.
Mr Gwanya replied that the idea was a matter for discussion, and the details would appear in a Green Paper. He further stated that the Department had a substantial amount of land managed through a trading account. It was also the custodian of vast tracts if land. All Departments would be required to have complete asset registers. He said that he thought that the idea was at the national sphere so that all land could be listed and used optimally. The focus was not on all land, but would primarily be on agricultural land.
Ms De Lille asked what percentage of land in South Africa was arable.
Mr Gwanya replied that about 120 million hectares could be used for farming, but only about three million hectares were high potential.
Ms De Lille asked what the Department would want to change in the Extension of Security of Tenure Act, mentioned in the Strategic Plan.
Mr Gwanya replied that the Department would share with the Committee in advance what it intended to change.
Ms De Lille asked whether renewable energy was being considered. She further enquired whether the Department was equipped to deal with the effect of climate change and the impact it could have on rural development.
Mr Gwanya replied that the South African government were signatories to the CSD 17 and CSD 18 documents emanating from the United Nations conventions on climate change, desertification and others matters around land in a rural context. Discussions were ongoing with the Department of Energy as to renewable sources of energy.
Ms A Steyn (DA) expressed further reservations about the relationship this Department had with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. She questioned the revitalisation of struggling projects.
The Chairperson added to this question by asking what leverage the Department had over other departments.
Mr Gwanya replied that his Department worked very closely with the Department of Agriculture.
Ms Steyn referred to the down budgeting for restitution. She said that the real amount for restitution, when the 25% recapitalisation figure was included, was about R700 million for the year.
Mr Gwanya concurred that the restitution budget was very small ,and said that the National Treasury was aware of this. He said that the Department was engaged in serious talks and that the budget may need a review, but that a baseline amount was allocated. He said that South Africa was not the only country with such problems, and that Germany experienced similar problems. He said that Germany had settled 80% of its land claims, but was stuck with a number forestry claims that concerned large estates.
Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) referred to the idea of regarding productive land as a national asset. He asked whether this meant that such land would be nationalised, or whether the land beneficiaries would be monitored to ensure their land was used optimally.
Mr Gwanya replied that this proposal was part of a list of options that would be placed before the public.
Nkosi Mandela asked, with regard to the categorisation of farms, whether it was intended that this categorisation would still be applied to people who already had land transferred to them.
Mr Gwanya said that those categories would only apply to new beneficiaries.
Mr B Zulu (ANC) stressed the importance of Cluster departments working together, and the need for Directors-General to collaborate. He asked whether DRDLR was working with other departments.
Ms Steyn requested clarity regarding the Communal Land Rights Act (ClaRA).
Mr Gwanya responded that the Strategic Plan was not explicit in this respect, due to a case currently being adjudicated in the Constitutional Court. He did concede that issues of tenure, where CLaRA applied, would need to be addressed.
Mr E Nchabaleng (ANC) congratulated the Department for having a number of women in senior positions.
Mr Nchabaleng noted that all development was in wards and that the Strategic Plan was informed by what was happening in wards. He asked how much of the Department’s work was linked in with the Integrated Development Plans (IDP) and district municipalities.
Mr Gwanya stated that the Department was using the IDPs for job creation. This did have its limitations. The Department was also working with Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Judge Jerome Ngwenya, Head, Ingonyama Trust Board presented the Strategic Plan for the Ingonyama Trust (the ITB) for 2010- 2011. He said that, given the time constraints, he would provide an abbreviated version of the presentation.
Judge Ngwenya stated that the amount of land under the control of the ITB amounted to 2.7 million hectares. Once all transfers were complete, this would total about three million hectares. He said that 1 491 titles were registered, spread across all municipalities in the KwaZulu Natal province, predominantly in rural areas. He said that in a communal and /or rural setting, most rights were not documented and rights to land were acquired orally. The ITB set out to document these oral rights where they occurred. It also created a system of leases and assessed where the content of each lease differed.
The ITB was a creature of statute and its legislation created a unique instrument. It must ensure that any commerce on communal land is developmental in nature. Any contracts entered into must benefit the local community. One of the biggest dangers was the lack of documentation to do with the land, and the fact that the documentation was essentially one-sided.
Another challenge identified was the review and reshaping of race-based discrimination. He illustrated, by way of example, that much land still was subject to restrictions on the title deeds, for instance, prohibiting the sale of that land to persons of a specified race. These restrictions would need to be removed. Act 70 of 1970 was also cited as a concern, as it was still on the books, and was a hindrance to development,
He said that out of a budget of R60 million, R50 million was generated by the Trust and only R10 million was received from government. This meant that the Trust was self-sustaining.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) raised a question about the application of the National Property Rates ACT (NPRA) in relation to land held by the ITB.
Judge Ngwenya responded that the NPRA did not apply any differently. It was national legislation and land under the aegis of the ITB was not exempt. The municipality was obliged to draft a valuation roll and this would include trust land. Those who occupied the land would be expected to pay rates. However, because the land was in the name of the Trust, the ITB was billed. He claimed that some municipalities would close their eyes to the fact that this land was occupied by someone else.
Ms De Lille said that Judge Ngwenya had raised a number of legal issues, such as the existence of Act 70 of 1970 and the determination of communal land. She asked whether he had any suggestions as to what should be changed, and how this should be done.
Judge Ngwenya responded that he would prefer to send suggestions in written form to afford the Members an opportunity to consider the issues.
Ms De Lille asked whether the Constitution was accepted as the highest law and whether it would not supercede pre-democratic restrictions and legislation.
Judge Ngwenya confirmed that the Constitution was the highest law in the land, but its provisions were only “activated” when challenged. Thus, conditions of sale restricting sales to a person of a named race, for instance, had to be technically applied, and would not automatically be invalid unless set aside. They could, however, be removed at the request of the owner of the title.
Nkosi Mandela asked about royalties received and investments made over the years
Judge Ngwenya said that royalties resulted from developments from the community. Investments were made according to certain criteria. The ITB did not register investments as the owner but in its capacity as agent.
Adoption of Minutes
The Chairperson tabled the Minutes of the last meeting. These were adopted by Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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