1913 Native Land Act Centenary Commemoration on 18 April 2013: Preparatory discussions

Rural Development and Land Reform

18 April 2013
Chairperson: Mr P Sizani (ANC) and Ms M Mabuza (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Members from the four Portfolio Committees, who had been selected as being the committees most affected by the planned event to mark a century since the passing of the Native Land Act, and note the efforts of government to reverse the effects of that legislation, met to debate how they would proceed on arranging the functions that had been decided upon as part of the commemoration. After some unhappiness expressed by some Members about the inconvenient time and inadequate notice for the meeting, Members agreed that everyone must be involved in trying to ensure that the country moved forward on land issues, which were vital to all. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform noted that it was still waiting for the official lodgment dates that would allow those who had missed the opportunity to lodge their land claims in the past, now to claim, and this was particularly important for Khoi and San people, whose land had often been incorporated into farms. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture added that it was not only the land, but often heritage artwork, that was now in the hands of other owners, many of them foreign. Members discussed how best to reach the target groups, and noted that any communication must be done in all official languages, and using media and groupings that would be likely to pass the message to where it was most needed. It was noted that a national workshop would be held with stakeholders in Cape Town, to discuss how best to solve land issues, but in addition members of the four committees would be grouped and travel to provincial debates, workshops and public meetings. A meeting would be held in Gauteng on 29 and 30 April, and one in KwaZulu Natal on 2 and 3 May. It was emphasised that members who spoke the languages in those provinces must be selected as appropriate. Members were urged to familiarize themselves with historic land issues, and to take directions from their parties.

Meeting report

1913 Native Land Act Centenary Commemoration planned for 18 April 2013: discussions on procedure
The Chairperson noted that no apologies had been received, and Ms Mabuza apologised for being unable to hold a meeting in the previous week.

Ms A Dreyer (DA) tabled the apologies of other DA Members who were unable to attend. She asked what process was being followed. She noted that land reform and restitution was an important issue and it was fitting that it should receive a focus now. She, however, asked who had made the decision for this meeting today, given that the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had other commitments.

Ms M Mabuza (ANC) answered that this date was agreed upon in a previous meeting and representatives were informed.

Mr N Van den Berg (DA) said that he received invitation to this meeting on Tuesday, but was not previously aware that the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture was part of this meeting.

Ms L Moss (ANC) said that this was an important issue. The country would be commemorating 100 years having lapsed since the Native Land Act was passed in 1913. Members had received messages about the dates, and there was transparency in calling the meeting, albeit that some notices may have been received late. She expected that people would make an effort to attend.

Mr S Ntapane said that Members were deployed by political parties and must be accountable people. He had been informed about the meeting, in his capacity both as a member of the Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform, and the Committee on Arts and Culture. He was surprised that other people were not in attendance, as they also knew about the meeting. This was a sensitive issue and he agreed that the Committees must deal with it now.

The Chairperson said that this project, although it was initiated by the ruling party, was certainly needed by the Committee that was most directly affected. He corrected the impression that this was a celebration and corrected that it was marking the centenary, to remember what the colonisers had done. All South Africans were interested in this historical fact. Everyone must be involved in reversing the legacy of that Act. The Portfolio Committee on Rural Development and Land Reform was still waiting for the new lodgments date, which, as he reminded the Committee, was intended to allow those people who had missed the first cut-off date for lodgment of their claims now to note them. The descendants of the Khoi San, especially in the Northern and Eastern Cape, and the heritage sites were also affected. Land was taken from people through the barrel of the gun, but now South Africans accepted that land would be dealt with in a legal fashion, which was why this was being marked.

The Chairperson also mentioned that the Expropriation Bill would shortly be brought to Parliament, but this should be dealt with separately.

Ms T Sunduza (ANC) agreed that land was a very emotional issue. She said that she met with the Khoisan people, who emphasised the question of land. Many heritage sites had today been incorporated into farms today. She agreed that the country should not “commemorate” bad history.

She referred to the question of target groups, and noted that at a previous meeting it was said that the amakhosi and media would be used to convey the message. She emphasised that any communication must be done in all eleven languages. It must be recognised that whilst certain demographic groupings would read newspapers such as the Sunday Times, most people affected by the land issue did not hear about what was happening because they did not have access to the resources. In Western Cape, farms were owned by international people or agencies, and even rock paintings by the Khoi San were now owned by foreigners. She said that she was not surprised that these facts raised high emotions.

Ms F Mushwana (ANC) wanted to call for progress and order.

Ms T Nwamita- Shilubana (ANC) said that people lived in a concentration camp, and it was hard for government to buy land.

Mr K Sithole (IFP) agreed that this was a sensitive issue, and the people of South Africa came first.  He noted that a number of newspapers should carry news but suggested that a specific one be used in KwaZulu Natal (KZN) and asked the Chairperson to give direction on this.

The Chairperson said that the Committees had a good reason to go to the provinces. He noted that a national workshop would be held, with all the stakeholders in Cape Town, involving non-governmental organisations, media, and traditional leaders on 10 June. This would be a national debate, with people of South Africa talking to each other on how to solve the land issue. Before the national debate there would be provincial debates, workshops and public meetings. The first would be held in Gauteng on 29 and 30 April, which people had already confirmed. The second, on 2 and 3 May, would take place in KZN. This all showed that people were serious about the land issue.

Ms Mabuza said that Members must try to mix the committees when making the visits in the provinces.

Ms A Dreyer agreed with Mr Sithole that it was necessary to put South Africa first and put party considerations aside. However, she viewed the whole process as ill-considered.

The Chairperson agreed that whilst the process had emanated from a particular committee, it later became a collective agreement that there would be participation between the four committees most directly affected. He noted that unhappiness on the part of some would not bring the process to a halt.

Mr S Ntapane believed that this was the right procedure to follow, and asked where the provincial workshops were to be held.

The Chairperson said that land claims were not made in Parliament and thus people needed to go into the provinces and inform the people. It was necessary to check what government had been doing since 1995.

Ms N Ngcengwane (ANC) said that it was necessary to send people to each of the provinces who knew and spoke the languages used in those provinces.

Mr van den Berg said that the tone in the meeting was not good for the people of South Africa, and noted the antagonistic tone and attacks on the DA and Ms Dreyer. He did not appreciate the implication being made that he had lied when he said that he was only informed of the meeting on Tuesday. This was an important issue and everyone should be given space and time to speak their minds. The Members were attending to give input and be constructive.

Mr Sithole asked whether the public meetings, workshop or debate would come first.

Mr Ntapane said that there were already dates set for provincial visits, and they were quite close. He believed that other provinces must be invited also to come on board.

Ms Dreyer stressed that the DA representatives supported the process, but pointed out that if people were to travel to Venda, it was necessary to arrange for translation services so that Members could respond. She asked if there was a budget for the process.

The Chairperson said that since all Members had agreed to visit the provinces it was now time to decide who would attend where, and to appoint the team leaders.

Ms P Ngwenya- Mabila (ANC) asked if the management committee would deal with this, suggesting that they knew of each person’s proficiencies.

The Chairperson urged everyone to read up on the land historical issues, and urged that Members be driven by facts, not emotions. He asked that everyone listen to their party concerns, and do the right thing. He noted that the House Chair had provisionally approved the proposal, and now the committees awaited the processes of Parliament. The date of the next meeting would be determined by the Gauteng visit.

Ms M Mabuza asked that the Committee Secretaries submit their lists by 3pm on that day.

The meeting was adjourned.


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