The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development received submissions from various land organisations and community representatives on the third day of public hearings on a virtual platform. The main objective was to ensure that the public inputs focused on securing land tenure rights for vulnerable groups, especially women.
The Committee received mixed submissions on the Bill. Those who supported the Bill believed that the Bill was a step in the right direction, and would ensure that the injustices of the past on land tenure rights and ownership were addressed. Most of the organisations advocated full ownership to be given to historically disadvantaged groups, including black farmers and women, although some preferred that land ownership be transferred to the communities and traditional authorities, not to traditional leaders.
The Committee was told that traditional authorities used excessive power over the people in the communities, and violated the human rights of people in the rural areas. There were also complaints about the ineffective use of Permissions to Occupy (PTOs) in securing land rights, especially since a PTO did not guarantee ownership of the land.
Members requested suggestions on how the government could assist the communities to address some of the issues raised, especially the securing of land rights for women. They said the Committee was aware of the ineffectiveness of the PTOs in securing land tenure rights. They were not sure of the position and stance of many of the organisations on the ULTRA Bill, and asked how the amendments suggested by the organisations would make a difference to the already unfair and existing systems of land tenure.
Due to network and connectivity problems, some of the organisations could not present and connect to the meeting. The Committee proposed that the presenters be grouped and allocated time slots to present at the next session.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee of the purpose of the Bill, which was to amend the ULTRA Bill of 1991 to provide for the application of land tenure rights into ownership. A notice had been submitted to inform all interested people on this application of the conversion, and an opportunity to object to the Bill would be afforded to interested people. The Institution of Enquiries was available to assist in the determination of land tenure rights, as well as to provide for the application for court by agreed persons for appropriate relief. The Bill’s purpose was also to provide for the recognition of conversions to effect in good faith. The Chairperson said that the Bill was a result of litigations at the Constitutional Court and the High Court in various court cases.
ULTRA Bill submissions
KOTI Research and Land Right Services
Mr Shirhami Shirinda, Director: KOTI Research and Land Right Services, said that KOTI worked on various land issues and assisting communities by protecting their land rights. The Bill was relevant to the work that was done by KOTI. Due to past colonial systems, land had been placed under traditional leaders who did not account to communities, but to the system. He said that the ULTRA Bill could not be passed with the transfer of land being to traditional leaders, because community members would not have individual rights to the land. The land should be given to individuals in the community.
Bakoni Tau-Phuthi Communal Property Associations
Mr Mothupi Tau, Secretary: Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPAs, said that the organisation rejected the Bill because there was no clarity given on the position between the traditional leaders and the land. He also asked what the problem was with including CPAs in the process of the Bill. The process of verifying claims was well done, but it did not benefit the mines. He proposed that the CPAs complete the outstanding claims and have notice boards at farm entrances to confirm ownership. He also suggested that 100% of the land should be allocated to women, because a mother would ensure that the land was used for its intended purpose.
AGRI Northern Cape
Mr Dirk Krapohl, Operations Manager: AGRI Northern Cape, described the organisation’s background and mission, and said that many farmers supported by AGRI Northern Cape experienced problems that resulted from not having ownership rights and a lack of tenure security. Permissions to Occupy (PTOs) were not easily transferable, and this affected agricultural production. There were also problems with accessing financing by farmers. AGRI Northern Cape fully supported the view that ownership should be given to farmers farming on State land. The ULTRA was therefore a step in the right direction, with amendments to specific sections of the Bill -- mainly Section 2(1) and Section 2 that had been submitted by AGRI SA. AGRI Northern Cape welcomed the Bill.
DOCKDA Rural Development Agency
Ms Ruth Molaolwe, Programme Officer: DOCKDA Rural Development Agency, said that the views in the submission were those of the rural women from the John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality. The Bill was welcomed as a step in the right direction in promoting and improving women’s access to land tenure rights. The Bill was important in addressing the unfair discrimination of people based on their gender. The promise of land re-distribution had not been fulfilled, and the question was whether the government feared repossessing land from white farmers. The distribution of title deeds would ensure land security, to contribute and participate in the economy. She said that there were unfair practices experienced by the rural women in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District that were being disguised as normal cultural practices. Patriarchal systems should not exist. Ms Molaolwe said that the Bill should be extended to include all land in the country, rural and urban, to ensure the promotion of equal access to land tenure rights for everyone.
Moutse Rural Development: Sekhukhune District Municipality
Mr Matome Maloba, Community Representative, said that the PTOs did not guarantee the transfer of land or title deeds to property. Most people in the rural areas had PTOs which meant that they did not have land rights to the properties they lived on currently. The Moutse Rural Development supported the Bill to prevent further disadvantages caused by the PTOs. The people must have ownership and title deeds.
Moutse Residence Committee: Sekhukhune District Municipality
Ms Khabonina Nzima, Community Representative, said the Bill was supported because there was a struggle by young people to gain access and secure land. The PTOs did not help because they eventually expired, but a title deed was permanent and would ensure that land was secured.
Ms M Tlhape (ANC) asked KOTI Research for clarity whether their submission was against the transfer of land to tribal authorities, because the organisation agreed on the land transfer to individuals. She appreciated the presentation by the Bakoni Tau- Phuthi CPA, and asked what the organisation’s position was on the transfer of land to tribal communities. She also appreciated the presentation by AGRI Northern Cape, and asked about its contribution to women’s agricultural enterprises, whether its membership consisted of women, and if the Bill would assist the government with the farm evictions that left women stranded after their spouses passed on. She commended the two speakers from the Moutse Community for highlighting the problems that existed with the PTOs and that the Bill sought to empower individual land ownership. She asked DOCKDA if there were any existing cases of tribal authorities being involved in transfers of land, and also asked about the current situation in rural areas for women.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) supported the presentation by KOTI Research and the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA for prioritising the empowerment of women. She said that the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA should share its plans for land ownership by women with other CPAs.
Ms A Steyn (DA) asked if the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA currently did not have a title deed or land rights use, because its presentation had highlighted that land would be transferred to traditional leaders. On the suggestion to place a notice board at farm entrances, she asked if action had been taken on people who invaded land.
Mr S Matiase (EFF) said that the Bill sought to secure land rights for people who lived in the former Bantustans, and to transfer ownership power to these people. He asked whether KOTI Research rejected this process for land users, and indicated to KOTI Research and the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA that there was a difference between land rights use and land ownership. Land ownership had to be enforced with the state, whereas land rights use was prescribed for a specific period. He asked whether the two organisations understood the current land dynamics and their future.
Ms T Breedt (FF+) thanked everyone for their inputs, and shared the sentiments on the CPA title deed.
Ms K Mahlatsi (ANC) appreciated the participation of all the community representatives.
Mr N Capa (ANC) addressed his questions to the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA. He asked whether the CPA still stands by its objection to the Bill, even after the Chairperson had mentioned the objectives of the Bill. He asked for their understanding of other organisations or individuals that were not under the CPA, because it was clear in the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA presentation that land ownership would apply only to CPAs.
Ms T Mbabama (DA) said that the KOTI Research presentation had focused on land being transferred to individuals in rural areas, and asked how the organisation thought that the Government could transfer the land to individuals in rural areas which included farms, CPAs and people living in the former Bantustans. To the Bakoni Tau- Phuthi CPA, she highlighted that the presentation touched on mining and minerals as well as CPAs being involved in the amendment process. She did not understand the statement made on traditional authorities being glorified because they distributed land, because there was mention of who provided land, and she asked for clarity on the statement. With the Bakoni Tau-Phuthi CPA rejecting the Bill entirely, she asked for a suggestion on how the government could provide CPAs with land. To AGRI Northern Cape, she said the presentation had emphasised full ownership being given to famers who farmed on state land, and she welcomed this suggestion. She asked for clarity on how the ULTRA Bill was a step in the right direction for full ownership, specifically in rural communities where the Bill provided that land would be transferred to traditional authorities. To the Moutse Residents’ Committee, she referred to the statement made that the youth were having problems in accessing and securing land. She asked how the youth could be assisted in securing land from the government.
KOTI Research and Land Rights Services
Mr Shirinda said that KOTI Research was against the transfer of land to tribal authorities because they continued to victimize people who used the land, and acted as if they owned the land that belonged to the State. There was no objection to the entire Bill, except for the section that supported this land transfer. On the ability to differentiate between land rights use and land ownership, he said that there was clear understanding of the two processes, and that land rights use was the current process used by the PTOs, and it needed to be transferred to ownership. He explained that land ownership showed that the land had been surveyed and had a single owner. There was no comparison of land ownership and title deeds, because title deeds were issued for farms. On the suggestion of how Government could transfer land to people in rural areas, he said that government had a department that dealt with surveying land, which made it possible to split the land into different sections, much as they did with townships, so that people knew who a portion of land belonged to.
Bakoni Tau-Phuthi Communal Property Associations
Mr Tau said that his opening remarks had stated that a letter seeking clarity on the meaning of ‘traditional communities’ had been sent to Parliament because during consultations, members were satisfied with the contents of the Bill only if the CPAs were part of the process. Parliament had not responded to the clarity seeking letter, even though extensive communication had been maintained. If the Bill included traditional communities and the CPA, then there was no problem with the Bill. On the action taken on people who invaded land, he said that there was a problem of people invading land and destroying its natural state. The zama zamas (illegal miners) were also a problem on the land that was invaded, because they dug for chrome. The CPA had approached the government to address the issue, but they had not been taken seriously. This was when women had been approached, because women were not greedy when it came to securing their children’s futures.
DOCKDA Rural Development Agency
Ms Molaolwe said that some of the land that had been issued was not well managed and was not sustainably developed, which affected profitability when it came to agricultural activity. She acknowledged that there were issues of failure in land distribution. She suggested that after the transfer of land, improved support to black emerging farmers be provided in capacity enhancement and development of capital, just as the apartheid government had done for white farmers to get them to participate in commercial farming.
Moutse Rural Development
Mr Maloba said that there was emphasis on the issue of PTOs because the communities continued to suffer, and some even passed on without getting their title deeds. The Bill should give hope to the people that they would have title deeds, because currently only white people had title deeds. Even the original black land owners did not have title deeds, only PTOs. He urged the Committee to speed up the process.
ULTRA Bill submissions
Bungeni Traditional Authority and Land First Consulting: Vhembe District Municipality
Mr Vasco Mabunda, Project Officer: Nkuzi Development Association, provided a background on the organisation, and said that communities under the traditional authorities did not have the freedom to make decisions on the land, and the Bungeni Traditional Authority supported the Bill’s proposal against the discrimination of women. On the transfer of land to communities, he said that development had been compromised because there was no freedom to make decisions. Traditional authorities should be given full ownership of the land they already possessed.
Limpopo House of Tradition Leaders (LHTL)
Kgosi Malesela Dikgale, Chairperson: Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders, said that the ULTRA Bill should benefit every South African. In the rural areas, the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders had put every effort into ensuring that everyone benefited. The oppression that happened to women was not holistic, because the focus was on traditional leaders. In the past, women were not allowed to own land, but they were now allowed to benefit from land tenure. The clause in the Bill that stated that land could belong to an individual, but not to a family, was objected to by the LHTL. The family should be able to own land. On the amendment in Section 2 that provided for the conversion of land rights, the Section had been declared constitutionally invalid because it violated the rights of women, but the Bill itself was not objected to by the LHTL. He said that land should be given to traditional communities, and not to traditional leaders.
Limpopo Legal Advice Centre (LLAC)
Mr Nakedi Mogale, Director: Limpopo Legal Advice Centre, said that the land tenure situation was a disadvantage to people in former Bantustans. PTOs were useless, and were the reason why ownership was necessary to access financial relief. The research on land tenure that had been conducted by the LLAC would be shared with the Committee. He said that the Chiefs should accept change and learn to accommodate the changes.
Ms Tlhape appreciated the presentation by the Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders, and commented that there were no objections to the Bill except for an issue with Section 20 that land should not be given to traditional leaders, but to traditional communities. She asked if the individual ownership would not eventually belong to the traditional community, because the individuals formed a community. She asked the LHTL what it would take to accept the Bill without any major adjustments being made to Section 20. To the Bungeni Traditional Authority, she said that the main focus of the presentation was the freedom by traditional authorities to make decisions on development. She asked if individual ownership was not the right step in achieving development, because most of the presentations by various organisations had highlighted the constraints of the customary and the collective systems by stating that if individuals had access to ownership, there would be a difference in the systems. To the LLAC, she said that the organisation’s position on the Bill was not clear, and asked what its position was on the Bill that sought to promote individual transfer of land, especially to women.
Ms Steyn said that the presentation by the LHTL had highlighted that land should be transferred in the name of the traditional communities, and asked how this process of transfer would strengthen land rights, because currently the traditional leaders held the land rights of the communities. To the Bungeni Traditional Authority, she said that the presentation supported land transfer to traditional authorities, and she asked how the process would be different and who would be responsible for community development considering that people paid an application fee to traditional leaders to obtain a PTO. She asked if the process was the same in every area, and who decided how the land use was paid for. What was the current land use system, and was there a record of people who had PTOs.
Mr Matiase said to the Bungeni Traditional Authority that it was not just people who had left the rural areas who were aware of the discriminatory patriarchal practices that happened in the rural areas -- this had also been observed by the courts. He said that land tenure systems had been put in place to correct what was in the Bill, especially land tenure rights for women. Land ownership would be debated at a later stage to ensure equal re-distribution of the land.
Ms Breedt said that the Bungeni Traditional Authority presentation had highlighted that traditional authorities had some sort of power over people in communities, and she asked for clarity on the statement. There were uncertainties on what had been presented by many of the organisations on the Bill regarding addressing injustices and the inclusion of women to owning property. She feared how and when the Bill would be effective in making a difference to current unfair practices. She also asked all the presenters on how the inclusion of women could be ensured in the Bill.
Ms Mahlatsi addressed the LHTL and the Bungeni Traditional Authority, and said that the Bill aimed to address the injustices of the past, especially towards women, and that the focus of the public hearings should be on women. She asked the LHTL, if the transfer of land was given to traditional communities, would this not still be aligned with what the Bill sought to achieve concerning women owning property?
Mr Capa said that both presentations by the LHTL and the Bungeni Traditional Authority carried an opinion that the public hearings had not been reaching the people that were most affected by the Bill, and he highlighted that the inputs of the two organisations were supposed to come directly from the people in the communities. He asked if this was the case.
Ms Mbabama said that the presentation by the LHTL had mentioned that land should be transferred to traditional communities, and not to traditional leaders. She asked if the LHTL believed in the type of leadership of the Ingonyama Trust, where the land under the Trust belonged to the king. The Bungeni Traditional Authority’s presentation had highlighted that there was no freedom to make decisions by traditional authorities, and she asked about the kind of freedom that was being referred to. She asked who would be responsible for receiving levy payments, and how the levies would be administered, because in the past there had been issues with the money paid to the Ingonyama Trust. She asked the LLAC whether it supported title deeds being given to individuals
Mr N Masipa (DA) said that the LHTL presentation had highlighted patriarchy, and that action had been taken to ensure that women had access to land. He asked for evidence of this action in addressing issues of ownership. He also asked about the type of land that was dedicated for women, and if both men and women benefited from the use of this land. There should be a system for rural people to ensure that there was a meaningful economic contribution, and asked how the LHTL would ensure this. To the Bungeni Traditional Authority, he said that the presentation had mentioned that every member must reap the rewards of ownership, and he asked if ownership referred to title deeds. The LLAC’s presentation had been clear that title deeds should be given to rural communities, and he asked how this process would be implemented, considering the complexities involved.
Mafefe Advice Center
Mr Thobejane said that the crisis in communities should be addressed accordingly.
Bungeni Traditional Authority
Mr Babunda said that the Bungeni Traditional authority does not advocate for levies to be paid by people in rural communities because there are businesses that make a lot of money in the rural areas. These businesses pay a once-off amount and never contribute to the communities. On traditional leaders having the freedom to make decisions on land, he said that the matter has been discussed on whether traditional authorities should administer the land. Every major decision made by the traditional authorities has to be discussed with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development. There should be guidelines allocated to the traditional authorities. He highlighted that there have also been concerns of how traditional authorities abuse and violate human rights and he confirmed that the concerns are valid. He said that it would be unfair to paint all traditional authorities in a bad light and prevent them from performing their constitutional mandate because one of the traditional authorities violates human rights.
Limpopo Legal Advice Centre
Mr Mogale said that the LLAC did not support land being transferred to traditional leaders, and explained that there were issues with the technical submission from the LHTL on the transfer of land to traditional communities. He said that there was a difference between traditional communities and individuals who resided in traditional communities. If land was transferred to traditional authorities, they would have their own rules, such as if an individual did not respect the chief, they would be removed from the land. The best resolution of the matter would be to transfer the land to the individuals. On the title deeds, he said that land had to be transferred to individuals in rural communities, not traditional communities, because the chiefs would have power over the individuals. He also emphasised that the ownership of land that belonged to wealthy individuals must be reviewed.
Limpopo House of Traditional Leaders
Kgosi Dikgale said that the transition of land meant that the land should not be in the possession of the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, but in the hands of the traditional community council. The council consisted of elected community members. Land should not be possessed by individuals, because like the issue of reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses being sold, land would also be sold. He could not make comments on the Ingonyama Trust, because it applied to a different province. The community needed to come together and allocate land accordingly. He said there had been a change in the rural areas which people who had long left the rural areas did not see. He explained that traditional leaders did not receive money from the communities, but from the traditional council. Records of people with PTOs were also kept by the traditional council. The community decided what happened on the land and how it was utilised, not the traditional leaders.
ULTRA Bill submission
Mafefe Advice Office
Mr Zachariah Thobejane, Head Paralegal: Mafefe Advice Office, said that there was a difference between a title deed and a PTO, and he supported land being given to individuals in rural areas because people would have the power to do anything they desired on their land without having to pay extra money.
The Chairperson read an input by Mr Molatelo Mohale (a programme officer at Nkuzi Development Association), who had stated that the country lacked exemplary traditional leaders who put the interests of communities first, but were influenced by private interests. Activists were restricted from entering the traditional council spaces because they might not share similar views with the traditional leaders. Placing land in communal areas under the ownership of traditional leaders was disastrous. Tribal councils were undemocratic in practice and such structures should not be given major responsibilities, such as land governance and administration. For the ULTRA Bill to be constitutional, traditional leaders should not be allowed to own land because of their unfair practices and complexities with land issues, which required certain expertise. The creation of elites who discriminated and excluded people should be avoided by the Bill. The state should be responsible for owning land and enabling ordinary people to exercise their right to owning the land.
Ms Tlhape appreciated the presentation by the Mafefe Advice Office, and assured Mr Thobejane that the issues faced by rural communities were taken seriously.
The Chairperson said that the purpose of the ULTRA Amendment Bill public hearings was to afford the public an opportunity to make submissions to the Committee so that all affected persons could be heard and recognised.
ULTRA Bill submission
Bojanala District Municipality
Mr David Ramohanoe, Land Activist, said that the Constitution was clear on the rights of both men and women, and that the submission would focus on parts of the ULTRA Bill that had been left out. Most of the time, women were excluded from accessing land, and even when their husbands passed away they still did not own the land, especially in KZN. He also mentioned that most title deeds that belonged to the chiefs were called “grants,” because they could be converted into title deeds. Trusteeships had also been excluded from the Bill. The chiefs were not playing their role of being custodians for the communities, but instead they aimed to prove their power. He said that the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) could not protect the vulnerable groups because it was not permanent, and more legislation that protected these groups should be developed.
ZF Mngcawu District Municipality
Mr Selby Nomnganga, Publisher: Ground Up, said that the Land Tenure Act should aim to restore a healthy relationship between people and the land, and that there was a lack of tenure security of land. He suggested that a land tribunal should be implemented in local municipalities so that people could easily submit their concerns and complaints, as well as seek support. The rights of the land should be open ended instead of having ownership, meaning that individual title was good for assurance and easy access to land. He said birth certificates should already have details on title deeds that the beneficiary had inherited or would inherit at birth, to avoid issues of conflict. Sustainable methods should be considered, especially during COVID-19.
Ms Steyn asked for clarity from Mr Ramohanoe on the land history, and asked if there were records of the land so that the issue was evaluated and there could be follow-ups.
Ms Mbabama said that the presentations were informative, but did not provide a clear position on the Bill. She asked for a clear position on the Bill from both presenters.
Mr Masipa also requested a clear position of whether the Bill was supported or not by the presenters.
Mr Nomnganga said that he supported the statement made by the Constitutional Court, that the Act needed to be changed so that it fitted what was written in the Constitution on equality rights. The Bill had traces of patriarchal systems that affected economic activities. He said that people should be given ownership titles.
The Chairperson proposed that the Secretariat and the Committee support staff contact all the presenters and place them into groups with allocated times for the following day’s submissions, because most speakers had network problems.
Members supported this proposal.
The Chairperson thanked all the participants who had made submissions and everyone present in the meeting. He said that the Committee would have enough inputs to consider during the amendment of the Bill.
The meeting was adjourned.
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