Briefing by the Nkuzi Development Association on Land Restoration in the Northern Province

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE & LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
27 October 1999
BRIEFING BY THE NKUZI DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION ON LAND RESTORATION IN THE NORTHERN PROVINCE

Documents Distributed
1. Time Line Marobala-O-Itsose
2. Limafuwa Redistribution Project, Louis Trichardt
3. Maswiri Boerdery, Tshipise, Messina District
4. Maswiri Boerdery Diary of Key Events
5. Nzhelele/Thsipise Land Reform 26th August, 1999 Summary of Resolutions
Popela Land Claim- Letaba District
6. Submission to the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture and Land Affairs, Nkuzi Development Association, Northern Province
7. Recommendations - Immediate/Short Term and Medium/Long Term
8. The Impact of Land Reform Policy in the Northern Province
[e-mail linden@iafrica.com for above documents]

MINUTES
The Nkuzi Development Association presented its case studies to the Committee. The floor was then opened up for comments or questions of clarity.

Mr Schoeman (NNP) said that all of the case studies were showing the same things; lack of progress and too much red tape. He told the Committee that they should be asking themselves what they could do as legislators.

Mr Wegerit (from the Nkuzi Development Association) explained that as legislators they had the task of drafting legislation but they could also oversee how legislation was being implemented.

The Chairperson asked that the Association take the Committee through more cases and then they would continue with the questions and comments.

The Chairperson asked if the stakeholders were informed when the Limafuwa Redistribution Project in Louis Trichardt was closed. Mr Wegerit said that the beneficiaries were not consulted.

Mr Farrow (DP) asked if they were upset about the moratorium that is in place or that the project was stopped. Mr Wegerit told the member that it is not the moratorium that upset the beneficiaries, but the fact that the project was stopped because only two of the three owners accepted the price.

The Committee then heard the recommendations proposed by Nkuzi Development Association. The floor was opened for questions and comments on the recommendations.

Mr Arendse (ANC) thought that another recommendation could be ensuring that the Department of Land Affairs distributes information informing people of their rights.

Mr Kotwal (ANC) asked about the long term recommendation made by the Association concerning giving the Land Claims Commission powers to settle claims without the agreement of current owners. Mr Kotwal wanted to know if the Commission had the power to do that. Mr Wegerit did not see why it was not possible. They had looked at the Constitution and did not see why a farm owner had to come into the process unless there were discussions of compensation.

Mr Mogoba (PAC) thought that it was important to have the Commission's opinion on the things that were presented to the Committee by the Association. He said that the Commission may have good reasons for some of the problems. The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mogoba but added that they needed to sit down with the Department of Land Affairs, directors, prosecutors, and all of the other individuals mentioned in the Association's briefing.

Mr De Vos (DP) asked if the Association could be exacerbating the number of inspections being carried out on farms. They had conflicting information from the Department of Labour. He also wondered how the Association gained assess to many farms when the Department could not. Mr Wegerit told the Committee that they were in regular communication with the Department of Labour. The Department was asked to come and visit farms but they did not show up. Recently, the Department of Labour asked the Association to inform them about different labour cases. That list was taken and sent to the Committee with the impression that the Department was dealing with them. In addition, Mr Wegerit said that access to the farms was not easy. They often faced locked gates and sometimes the meetings take place on the street. They have also had lawyers involved to gain access.

Mr Farrow (DP) told the Committee that he would also like to have a meeting with all of the concerned parties present including: Agriculture South Africa, the Department of Justice and the Department of Labour. He asked the Association to prepare a portfolio for such a meeting.

Mr Hanekom (ANC) commented to the Committee that he thought the Association had made an excellent presentation. The question for them was how to best deal with the issues. He admitted land reform is difficult and it has proven to be difficult all over the world, not just in South Africa. He did not agree with Mr Schoeman's comments earlier that all the case studies say the same thing, some of them show positive things have been done. He saw nothing from stopping a third tier government from becoming involved in the problems. Mr Hanekom said that they needed to determine what they could do to better the situation. He thought that they needed to sit down with the Association and the Commission and talk about how they were going to deal with the cases. The Committee should focus on successes and failures of the cases and see what they can learn from them to improve the current situation. Mr Hanekom also requested that this presentation go to the Minister.

The Chairperson commented that it would have been better if the Department had been present to comment on these problems raised. He said that the issue was not always that the laws are inadequate but there are problems with the organs of state implementing the laws. He thought that they needed to look at both the laws and the organs of state to see where the problems were. He encouraged the Committee to look at the broader development structure and look at how they can improve rural development.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) asked the Chairperson to have immediate discussions with the Minister of Safety and Security so that something could be done to stop the evictions from farms. She said that it was not a problem just facing the Northern Province but it was happening in Mpumalanga as well. She thought that they needed to take drastic steps to stop evictions.

Mr Van Niekerk (FA) said that he noticed a lack of trust between the role players. He thought that they should focus on getting them positively involved. He recommended monitoring one project from start to finish in order to highlight problems and to get a first hand knowledge at what was happening.

In their concluding remarks, the Association told the Committee that there are several different issues that need to be highlighted and that they could easily give the Committee further information on those issues. They reminded the Committee that restitution claims figures can be confusing, the numbers do not always mean that people have their land back, it just means that the case has been dealt with. The Association was sceptical of the Commission's target of completing three thousands claims per year. They did not know if it meant that people would get their land back. They told the Committee that one area where they could help the land reform process was in the budget. Their budget has been cut without ensuring better implementation. They would like to see this changed. In addition, they asked the Committee to focus on land use and land access in South Africa.

Before adjourning the meeting the Chairperson assured the Committee that these concerns would be raised with the Minister and he asked the Association to formulate a presentation to present to the various stakeholders in a future meeting.

These Minutes have been supplied by Contact.

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