Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill: public hearings

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

10 October 2023
Chairperson: Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Southern African Agriculture Initiative (SAAI) (awaited submission)

The Portfolio Committee met in person to continue its national public hearings on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill [B8-2021]. Seven organisations made their submissions at the meeting -- Agri-SA, the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), the Agricultural Business Chamber (AGBIZ), the Southern African Agriculture Initiative (SAAI), the Minerals Council of South Africa (MCSA), the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation (BACF), and the Inyanda National Land Movement and Rural Women's Assembly.

The IRR, SAAI and MCSA did not support the Bill, whereas the other four expressed their support and made further additional recommendations.

The IRR and SAAI felt that the current legislation was sufficient to address the challenges that the Bill claimed to address, and were of the view that additional legislation would only create more bureaucracy which would de-incentivise investors. The current administration was not known for its efficiency and competent capacity. Should this Bill be passed into law, they felt that the additional responsibilities would further cause delays which would affect farmers, especially the small- to medium-scale farmers that they represented.

The MCSA appealed to the Committee to understand the critical contribution of mining to the country’s economy and urged the Bill to be either withdrawn or revised. It stated that it adhered to all the existing legislation, and was the only sector required by legislation to drive transformation and provide a socio-environmental impact assessment.

On the other side, Agri-SA and AGBIZ supported the Bill. They asserted that it could help curb the loss of agricultural land which was essential to food security, especially for the disadvantaged population. The Black Agricultural Commodities Federation pointed out the valuable land reform experience of Brazil, India and China and the role of the often neglected indigenous farming.

During interaction with Agri-SA and the IRR, Members agreed that the definition of “food production” should not be limited only to food, but should also include other agricultural activities as well, and said the scope of agricultural areas was too broad. They disagreed with the presenters that the proposed enforcement measures were draconian, and said the penalties clauses should be retained.

Members sought clarity on what the IRR meant about the "red tape" that would be created due to this Bill, as they felt that there should be a distinction between proper enforcement of the law and redundant red tape measures.

On the issue of foreign nationals purchasing land, some Members were of the view that the country must prioritise the interest of South Africans before considering foreign nationals and businesses. The country should assist emerging farmers. The prioritisation of the interests of landowners was the reason why South Africa was in the state it is today.

Members disagreed with the IRR that the Committee had not had adequate consultations with the public and excluded landowners in the process. They also disagreed with the IRR’s view that it would be inappropriate to give too much power to the Minister, as it was the prerogative of the executive to govern.

A Member also sought advice on the court ruling that may jeopardise the future of the Bill, as determining land use and subdivision remained a constitutional duty of local government. Members also wanted to know how the Bill could be implemented to benefit the occupants of communal land.

Members disagreed with the SAAI on its view that the PADL bill would be a duplicate of existing legislation, and gave reassurance that the Bill aimed to protect landowners as well. It was not the intention of the Bill to punish landowners as well as the small-scale farmers which the SAAI claimed to represent.

During the public hearings, they expressed concern over their countrywide observation that agricultural land was being taken over for residential and other purposes. They stressed that this land could not be reverted back to agricultural land in some scenarios, and therefore reaffirmed the urgency of the Bill to protect the agricultural land. They questioned whether those stakeholders who objected to the Bill would like to see the government not having any power to stop that trend and ultimately affect the country's food security.

The Committee was overwhelmingly critical of the mineral sector’s catastrophic impact on the environment. Some Members whose constituencies were in mining towns described them as almost “suicidal”, as people had no access to clean water, and mining operations had permanently destroyed the ecological system in those regions. Although they acknowledged the contribution of the mining sector, they were more in support of the agricultural sector. They suggested that the benefits of the mining sector were short-term and limited to only a small group of the population.

The Committee appreciated the support which the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation (BACF) and the Inyanda National Land Movement and Rural Women's Assembly had expressed for the Bill. They asked the BACF about the differences in the land reform processes between South Africa and China, and what lessons could be learnt. Members also sought more details on how black-owned land was being exploited by big business.

Meeting report

The Chairperson commented on the current conflict between occupied Palestine and Israel, and expressed his hope that the conflict would be resolved. He prayed that the Muslims, Christians and Jews would be living in harmony in the near future.

He highlighted the importance of the preservation of agricultural land in relation to the sustainability of food, as well as its intertwined relationship with people’s livelihoods. He emphasised that the protection and preservation of agricultural land was what this Bill, the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill [B8-2021], sets out to achieve. He stressed the critical value of this Bill in ensuring the optimal use of agricultural land, providing food security and leveraging the power of agriculture to take people out of poverty and transform South Africa.

He affirmed the view that it was the state’s obligation to realise the constitutional imperative in section 24 regarding environmental protection for the benefit of present and future generations through reasonable legislative and other measures that would secure the sustainable development of natural resources. However,  the reality of people in informal settlements, and especially in underdeveloped rural areas, made Members ever conscious of their duty under section 27(1) of the Constitution to ensure that everyone in South Africa had access to sufficient food by taking measures aimed at enhancing the preservation and optimal use of agricultural land for agricultural purposes.

He highlighted that as they engaged in the national public hearings, the Committee was aware of the huge outcry on the lack of access to land in general and, more specifically, agricultural land. The main concern was how this Bill could address the plight of black farmers, who to a great extent, remained landless. He described it as a disturbing issue that would not go away and could not be ignored. During the Committee’s public hearings, it had become clear that the supply side of state land seemed to fall short of the demand side as farmers in many respects, whether from local government or national government, lamented the need for agricultural land. Some of the issues were related to the transparency of processes, contract management and alleged corruption in the management of state lease contracts. These were the issues that required urgent attention and intervention.

He observed that a number of comments that had been raised on the Bill should be understood with the section 25 process. As this Bill neared finalisation, the Committee was fully aware that there would always be varied and competing uses of land, such as for mining, forestry, conservation, residential development, etc. Hence, there always had to be a cost-benefit analysis that took into account the socio-economic, as well as the environmental, aspects. In the face of competing land interest, one must nevertheless ensure that the broad objectives of the Bill -- which was to preserve agricultural land for posterity -- remained paramount.

One of the important observations had been that the Bill should be implemented in a manner that minimised over-regulation for emerging farmers in the sector.

He said the notion that agricultural land was solely for a single use did not apply in all cases. There were several instances where high-potential agricultural land coexisted alongside other public good uses such as schools, churches, ecotourism, infrastructure, etc.

He noted that there had been a general outcry on the limited, if any, level of public consultation by the Department in the first phase. Community members had raised that seemingly only one side of the stakeholders had been consulted by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) during the development of the Bill, whereas there was no representation of smallholder farmers’ associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and universities. This was a serious shortcoming that must be addressed and remedied by the work of Parliament. Communities had expressed the view that Parliament could have done better in its public education efforts towards the Bill.

Lastly, some members had also expressed their need to shift away from a top-down approach in policy development towards a bottom-up approach that placed citizens at the centre of law-making and policy development. Such a suggestion was crucial to agriculture, and without it, their efforts would be in vain.

Some of the comments that the Committee had received indicated the need for an emphasis on developing a position within the DALRRD and government in general to implement its laws and policies. Some of the comments indicated that the use of food security in the Bill did not consider the actual scenarios of household food security in many communities across South Africa, such as the widespread community food security initiatives that were started by women in their backyard gardens, child-headed households and unemployed peoples in their communities that fulfilled pressing needs. There was also concern raised that the Bill did not accommodate subsistence farmers.

The Chairperson then commented on the avian flu which had negatively impacted the South African poultry industry. However, he assured Members and those observing this situation to not fret, and gave an assurance that eating cooked eggs was still safe.

Finally, he welcomed all members in attendance to this national public hearing. The Committee had had a marathon of public hearings in all nine provinces from the beginning on 20 June, and had managed to visit all nine provinces respectively. All submissions from those public engagements had been sent to the Secretariat and distributed among Committee Members.

He invited Agri-SA to make its presentation.

Agri-SA on PADL Bill

Ms Amy Barclay, Head: Land Centre of Excellence,  Agri-SA, briefed the Committee on the organisation’s position on the PADL bill. The organisation supported the replacement of the outdated Sub-division of Agricultural Land Act (SALA).

Agri-SA emphasised the country’s need for well-regulated and sufficiently protected agricultural land and use management.

It recommended the integration of various other pieces of legislation, such as the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (SPLUMA), the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA), and the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA).

(See attached presentation for details).

South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) on PADL Bill

Mr Gabriel Crouse, Head of Campaigns, South African Institute of Race Relations (IRR) described this version of the Bill, in IRR’s opinion, as much better for ordinary South Africans than its earlier versions.

He highlighted the issue of “red tape” within laws and policies, and pointed out that there was a whole special department in the Presidency whose dedicated purpose was to cut the red tape. The IRR feared that many of the elements in the Bill in its current form would be laying the ground for that red tape. Although the red tape was not being put in place through the legislature as law and statute, the Minister's powers in making regulations would later result in that red tape.

The Institute disagreed that the Bill precludes foreigners from being able to purchase land in South Africa. He supported the willing buyer, willing seller principle. Further, section 25 of the Constitution protects property rights. He indicated that there may even be job benefits derived from foreigners buying farms and land.

He pointed out that the Bill currently had a provision that certain information of owners must be kept in a registry, including their nationality. The Institute was concerned that by doing so, the Minister could later intervene with that same plan to say one may not sell land to foreigners.

The Institute was also concerned with the unrestrained power of the Minister of Agriculture that was given by section 5(1)(a). It was of the view that the Bill should be amended to include a duty on the part of the Minister to consult with the affected landowners, given that the political context in South Africa made it very tempting to dismiss agricultural landowners in this country.

In section 11(2)(A), the Bill appeared to give the Minister the right to give land capability ratings.

The Institute expressed its concern over the top-down approach which the Bill contained. It was against the best international practice, where landowners were always included during consultations.

The Institute was of the view that these five-year plans in the South African context seemed extraordinarily displaced. It was the responsibility of the legislature to look at the failures of the executive to consider the overburdening of resources on the executive.

(See attached document for more details).


Ms M Tlhape (ANC) described the issue of land as an emotional matter for many South Africans, and therefore thanked Agri-SA for supporting the Bill.

She agreed with Agri-SA’s input on clause 11. The definition of “food production” should not be limited to only food, but should also include other agricultural activities as well.

She agreed with Agri-SA’s input on Clause 16, that leaving the scope of agricultural areas too broad might result in misuse. She said the Committee would need to ask the Department for more clarity.

In relation to clauses 31 and 33, she noted Agri-SA’s position that the clauses were draconian, but questioned how law enforcement could request an appointment for someone if that person was not complying. She emphasised the importance of enforcement.

She disagreed with Agri-SA on clause 36, and believed that 3(c) should remain as an offence. A competent authority should not be undermined.

She sensed that the Institute of Race Relations had certain “fears,” and wished that she could engage with its fears so that she could help them understand the purpose of the Bill better. She referred to the objectives of the Bill and the Committee’s experience in the public hearings. During those hearings, Members were made aware that mines, informal settlements, etc., occupied agricultural land, whereas South Africans needed more land to provide jobs. She asked the Institute to loosen up a bit, as it was not the intention of this Bill to be hard on anyone -- its aim was to protect everyone.

Given the impact of climate change, the country could not afford not to preserve what was still there.

She noted the Institute’s concern about the potential “red tape” in the Bill, but argued that it was government’s responsibility to close the loopholes. The Minister should therefore be empowered in the Bill to make such regulations and close such gaps. She found it uncalled for that such efforts should be called red tape.

She said she would not mind if the Minister intervened on the issue of nationality at a later stage. However, she lamented the large percentage of land owned by foreign nationals and businesses, and said that Africans were crying. It was painful. She expressed the concern that judging by that percentage, South Africa did not even belong to South Africans.

She told the IRR that the Bill already contained the element of the coordinating roles of municipalities and provinces in implementing it. For instance, the Bill made it clear that provinces must have their agricultural sector plans and provide funding for those plans.

She disagreed with the Institute that all these details pertaining to land should be left to landowners. The executive organ of the government must do its job. We are where we are at present because government has given too much liberty to landowners.

She disagreed with the Institute that there had been inadequate consultation with landowners, because the Committee had been to all nine provinces.

She added that she would not object to having quotas on the sale of land to foreigners.

Inkosi R Cebekhulu (IFP) reminded the Institute of South Africa’s history of land dispossession. People had been forcibly removed from their land. He suggested the Institute should review the challenge which the country faced and not advocate for the interests of foreigners to enable them to buy land. In this country, some farmers possessed vast land which should be divided and be given to new emerging farmers. He further questioned the Institute whether other countries also allowed South Africans to purchase land from them. The produce of farms should be given to the South African market before being exported. Those were the challenges which the Bill should address.

Ms B Tshwete (ANC) did not know whether the Institute supported the Bill or not, and thanked Agri-SA for supporting it.

She did not understand the IRR's insinuation that there was inadequate consultation with landowners. Since any land or farm was located within municipalities, they were all notified of this process. It would be sad if some landowners had alienated themselves from that process.

She disagreed with the Institute’s concern that s5(1)(a) implied that there was no restraining power to the Minister in terms of administration, and was of the view that the clause should remain. It was the prerogative of the executive to govern.

On the issue of foreign nationals, she was of the view that it should be left as it was, because some issues were too complex to engage intensely on this platform or for this Bill.

Mr N Capa (ANC) asked for Agri-SA’s view on the sentiment among the populace that the preservation of land should lean towards ownership of the land. How could someone preserve that land if land was not theirs? Following that, the s25 issue should be resolved before the Act was implemented.

He asked the Institute to make a distinction between administration and red tape.

He noted that the Institute preferred the “willing buyer, willing seller” principle, but wanted to know if that meant that in this country land could be sold to anyone at any time of whichever nationality and so on, despite the fact that its citizens were crying for land in South Africa.

Ms T Mbabama (DA) reminded the Institute that AGRI-SA represented most of the farmers and landowners in the country.

She was worried about, and disappointed with, the Institute’s presentation. She had hoped that the Institute would be giving more constructive inputs for lawmakers to consider, given that this was a law-making process.

She questioned the Institute on why the Bill should be withdrawn, and should that be the case, what would happen to the preservation and development of agricultural land in this country? She came from what was formerly known as the Transkei area. She noted how people who used to have food security in the old days had now lost their livelihood because residential houses were being built upon those lands.

Mr N Masipa (DA) welcomed Agri-SA's inputs on the agri-sector plans.

Since local government was mandated on land use management throughout the Republic, he asked Agri-SA how the sharing of information between the agro-eco information system, the SPLUMA, the NEMA officials, and public-private-partnerships (PPPs) would enable food security and land preservation, and how it could help make this bill work.

He read a court ruling that had been quoted by the Dullah Omar Institute, which stated that:

"…municipalities are mandated in deciding the establishment or subdivision, because this is part of municipal plans. 2)  Legislation that empowers a national department to veto a municipality's decision with regards to rezoning township subdivision is unconstitutional."

Since this was a precedent in which the court had ruled against the national government in intervening in a matter that was constitutionally the responsibility of local government, he wanted to hear Agri-SA’s thoughts on that.

He sought more clarity on equal protection for the agricultural sector versus the mining sector.

He supported Agri-SA’s input on clause 31, and said that the Committee needed to ask the Department and the Minister to talk to the agricultural sector on compliance inspection. Given that crime was a challenging issue in the country, it would not be in farmers’ or landowners’ interests if officials walked onto the land without an appointment. The Committee needed to engage the Department and hear its view on that issue as well.

He agreed with the IRR that rural communal land was agricultural land first before any other consideration could be made. The Department would have to discuss with the Committee how the Bill applied to communal land in rural areas. His understanding was that the land referred to commercial and agricultural land.

He agreed with the red tape issue, as well as the lack of law enforcement which he had observed in Johannesburg, and which was failing this country. He requested the Institute to narrow down particularly on the red tape issues in this Bill, to assist the Committee in its work.

He agreed that the top-down approach of the agri-sector planning might have to be reviewed.



Ms Barclay clarified the organisation's position on the penalties and offences section of the Bill. Although it firmly believed in enforcing and ensuring compliance, it felt that it needed to caution the Committee that any drafting of this Bill should be in line with the Constitution and the Criminal Procedures Act, otherwise the Bill would face a constitutional challenge.

Agri-SA did not have a view on s25 of the Constitution. At this stage, Agri-SA would still have to consult its members and affiliates to formulate a view representing the organisation. However, it wished to highlight that it was untenable that land should be limited only to land ownership. There were people who had a right to occupy land, but the government had not effectively transferred properties in the appropriate manner.

Ms Barclay understood where Mr Masipa’s point had come from -- that there were competing legislations regarding land management between the national and local governmental spheres. Agri-SA’s suggestion would be to align the legislation by reviewing the SPLUMA. In an ideal world, if the government could get everyone, including municipal officials, in agreement with the SPLUMA and the National Agro-Eco Information System, then there would not be a breach of any law. However, she suggested that reaching a consensus might be very difficult since it was a countrywide issue.

Institute of Race Relations

Mr Crowse clarified that Members were confused over the lack of consultations to which he had referred. It was not the consultations with this Committee to which he had referred, but rather the consultation process within the legislation once it was passed into law. The word “consult” appeared 24 times in the Bill, and all of them were consultations taking place at the governmental level. Although the Institute did note that the Bill contained “consulting with municipalities”, it wanted to know if that included consultations with landowners in the municipalities as well.

He commented on the many beautiful examples in which national governments had managed agricultural land well, such as the Swedish, South Korean or Japanese governments. However, the South African context was different. The courts had said,

"Over nearly two decades and indisputably since 2006, the Department of Rural Development and Agriculture has manifested and sustained what has seemed to be obstinate misapprehension by its statutory duties. It has shown unresponsiveness plus a refusal to account to those dependent on its cooperation for the realisation of their land claims and associated constitutional rights. Despite repeated promises, plans and undertakings, it has displayed its inability to get the job done as the relevant department in this instance fails to help, in this case, 20 or more poor black previously dispossessed people and by implication thousands more. The department has jeopardised not only the rights of land claimants but the constitutional security and future of Africans… It is not the Constitution, nor the courts, nor the laws of the country that are at fault in this, it is the institutional incapacity of the department to do what the statute and the Constitution require of it that lies at the heart of this colossal crisis."

The Institute was therefore of the view that the Bill would place more responsibilities on the Department, such as inspections, making five-year plans, and making decisions for other people on whether land should be sub-divided or not, despite the Department’s failure in providing basic services.

Regarding foreigners, Mr Crowse explained that s25 of the Constitution explicitly states that no one should be deprived of land. Although the Constitution did not directly make reference to purchasing, it was nevertheless part of the property regime which the Constitution had envisaged to include as well. Thus, no one should be discriminated against.

Commenting on a Member’s remark that the country should sell food locally first before turning to the export market, he asked the Member to refer to the Treasury statistics and look at the huge number of South African imported goods. He pointed out that exports boosted trade and strengthened the rand.

He asserted that red tape was the laws and regulations that imposed obligations on businesses and reduced their capacity to add value.

Replying to Ms Mbabama’s input on the people dispossessed of their land in the former Transkei, he clarified that his rationale for suggesting government should withdraw the Bill in its entirety was because the existing laws that addressed those issues already existed. If the government could focus on implementing the existing legislation, many of the issues would be ameliorated. He asked the government to look to excellent examples, such as the Netherlands, which had an extremely productive agricultural sector although its land size was much smaller than the Transkei.


Ms Annelise Crosby, Head: Legal Intelligence, Agricultural Business Chamber (AGBIZ), presented the organisation’s view on the PDAL Bill.

AGBIZ supported the Bill, and emphasised its critical role in realising s27(1)(b) of the Constitution. It affirmed the degradation and loss of agricultural land to other purposes.

There had been various attempts since the early 2000s to come up with legislation to replace the SALA of 1970, and the Conservation of Agricultural Resources Act 43 of 1983. This legislation was therefore long overdue and urgent, given the rate of loss of high quality agricultural land.

The National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) process had included an independent legal opinion that investigated the constitutionality of the Bill, and it had been redrafted and submitted to NEDLAC a second time.

Agbiz was not advocating for agricultural interests to be placed ahead of any other economic interests, but merely advocating for a legal regime whereby natural agricultural resources enjoy the same legal status and protection, in the public interest, as the extraction of precious metals or industrial development.

The organisation proposed a system of integrated authorisations.

(More specific clause-by-clause comments could be referred to in the presentation slides).


Dr Theo de Jager, Executive Director, Southern African Agricultural Initiative (SAAI), said that the organisation represented the interests of small-scale family farmers, and appealed to the Committee to consider either withdrawing the Bill in its entirety, or significantly revising the Bill. He highlighted that members of the organisation had forged great relationships with traditional leaders.

The SAAI was of the view that food security in modern days no longer meant that a country should produce everything it consumes to be self-sufficient. In the world of today, a country produces enough in the areas of its competitive advantage to exchange food with other countries in the food basket. He highlighted the tea export example -- South Africa had been unseated as the main tea exporter by Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania, with the exception of Rooibos.

The SAAI was uncertain whether the Bill, as it stands now, would ensure agricultural sustainability. It expressed concerns on the infringements on property and trade rights, and the unjustified restrictions which the Bill contained.

It feared that the Bill had given too much power to the Minister and the Department, over which there was not much control. He also complained about the Department’s lack of efficiency.

There was a lack of evidence on the occupancy of agricultural land, with the exception of residential and mining use.

The SAAI was of the view that with better application of other existing legislation, the challenges which the Bill sought to address were well covered.

He disputed that foreign ownership of agricultural land was a bad thing, and pointed out that it attracted investment. He referred the Committee to a study that had been undertaken in 2006 in which it was found that less than one percent of South African agricultural land was owned by foreign companies.


Ms Tlhape suggested they should have the submissions from organisations taken up with the Department.

She agreed that clause 14 was vague, and needed specific timelines.

She noted that the SAAI concurred with the IRR’s position on the Bill. She disagreed that there was duplicated legislation, as Members would have looked at those gaps otherwise. She asked him to identify the actual legislation where it was duplicated.

She noted SAAI’s input on the Bill’s impact on small-scale farmers, and reassured Dr De Jager that this Bill aimed to protect those small-scale farmers as well.

She had witnessed agricultural land being turned into residential developments for the sale of houses in smaller towns. At the same time, she expressed her empathy to those organisations that were concerned with the policy uncertainty. She reassured them that the Committee would not allow such uncertainty to happen. She also appealed to those organisations to be cognisant of the vulnerable needs of e South Africans. Who would protect them if the state had no power to protect them then? The interests of the majority who grew up on those lands were at stake.

Ms Tshwete reminded Dr De Jager that currently, the sub-division of agricultural land was controlled through sellers, which was what this Bill sought to address. The old Bill did not give the Minister any power to protect agricultural land. During the public hearings, the Members had heard farm workers that local government would get on to their farms and start building reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses, which the Minister had no power to stop. As much as he understood the concerns about the discretion of the Minister and the board, the objective of the Bill was bigger than those concerns.

Mr Capa noted AGBIZ’s concern about the mixed use of land, but wanted to know its position on land use and land use planning. For example, if an individual or a business had enough cash to purchase a piece of agricultural land of 500 hectares to build a mall, he questioned whether the Department should have the power to protect that land in that situation.

He noted Dr De Jager’s remark on the decrease in South African tea exports, and reminded him of the painful history of tea plantations which British companies owned.

He struggled to understand the duplication which the presenter had constantly mentioned, stressing that this Bill aimed to address the shortcomings in other legislations.

He asked Dr De Jager if SAAI represented a considerable number of stakeholders, because the public hearings had shown otherwise -- that a large number of farmers supported the merits of the Bill.

Ms Mbabama noted the support of AGBIZ on the Bill. She noted and understood Dr De Jager’s concern on the unrestrained power of the Minister, but indicated that she was certain that it was not the intention of the Bill to empower the Minister to dictate how farmers should farm, or what activities should be taking place on farms.

She asked him if he would be more comfortable if the Bill was restricted to government land only, and did not affect people with title deeds.

Mr Masipa wanted to know why the poultry industry was excluded from the membership of AGBIZ. Given its role and relation to agricultural land, he believed that the industry should be represented.

He fully supported that the privacy of landowners must be protected, and that references made to that in the Bill should be reviewed.

He acknowledged that the concerns that had been raised by Dr De Jager and SAAI were valid. There were laws in the country that were not being implemented, which explained why land invasions were taking place. Whilst SAAI had raised valid points, he again reiterated the objects of the Bill, which he described as important. He highlighted Committee Members’ responsibilities in executing their oversight duties.



Ms Crosby clarified that AGBIZ’s position was that since the Bill should be applied to all agricultural land, the definition should be clearer and should not create more uncertainty. In its current form, firstly, there were many forms of land use, such as agriculture, residential, etc.; secondly, land was zoned but may not be used as it was zoned, which should also be clarified in the Bill.  

AGBIZ could not comment on the poultry industry issue which had been raised.


Dr De Jager concurred with the Institute of Race Relations on every word, despite the fact that he had never had any contact with the Institute. The presentation and the view of the IRR represented exactly the interests of many small- and medium-scale farmers.

He further questioned government’s capacity to implement this Bill and to take on still more responsibilities, as it was already failing to implement the SPLUMA, NEMA, etc.

He disputed Committee Members' view that good intentions were sufficient because this Bill, if passed, would be there long after everyone present was no longer around. Hence, it must have all measures in place to ensure that it would not be misused.

He said that from where he came from, communal land had suddenly been turned into residential areas due to government’s failure to implement existing legislation. However, the lost land could not be recovered and the process could not be reversed. The land could not be used for agricultural purposes anymore.

On the sub-division of agricultural land, he informed the Committee that the principle had been defined as economically viable, which at the time had been defined as profit which must be more than the earnings of a junior mine worker. However, he also pointed out that more than 2.2 million farmers were working on the fringes of cities. Those were the small-scaled farmers which this definition should also include. Those were the farmers of tomorrow, and should be the beneficiaries of land reform.

Since farmers’ organisations played the role of advocacy to influence policies, he represented the interests of small- and medium-scale farmers. It was the government’s job to represent the interests of South Africa. Furthermore, he pointed out that the members of the South African Agricultural Initiative were not farm owners -- they belonged to trade unions and were small entrepreneurs. Many of them suffered losses due to government’s bureaucracy and red tape, and their losses would certainly not be compensated by the government. Its view therefore was that the less responsibility the government took, the better for small-scale farmers.

Further, as commercial farmers, its members had forged very good relationships with chiefs and royal houses of communal land, which brought stability to the environment. His personal experience was that one day, a farm worker had refused to go to work because of a fight between him and his wife. He had taken them to the royal house and the issue had been resolved. Many of those commercial farms understood the customs of traditional chiefs and provided cows and sheep during the festive seasons, such as Christmas and Easter, as a sign of courtesy.

Minerals Council of South Africa on PDAL Bill

Ms Ursula Brown, Head: Legal, Minerals Council of South Africa, briefed the Committee on its position on the Bill.

The Council highlighted the importance of the mining sector to the national and provincial economies.

Although the Council supported sustainable development of agricultural land for food security purposes, it urged the Committee to consider the balancing of interests between the mining and the agricultural sectors.

Should the Bill be passed, it would have a detrimental impact on the mining industry. S11 of the Bill -- the definition of agricultural land, the definition of preservation, the agro-ecosystem authorisation, etc -- were all factors that would deter the growth of the mining sector.

(Please refer to the presentation slides for more details)


Ms Thlape re-emphasised the interest of the people and the critical importance of the preservation of agricultural land, but she also clarified that it did not mean that other sectors could not coexist should the Bill go into effect. She questioned the Minerals Council on why there had been such an outcry. She came from the North West, and had first-hand experience of mining towns which she described as being close to suicide. Communities on the ground were suffering. She questioned why those mining areas were not being rehabilitated. She urged the Council not to be so defensive on the Bill. There were arrangements in the Bill, such as Chapters 4 and 7, that would ensure the coexistence between mining and agriculture. The bottom line was that it could not remain the status quo, as agricultural land was being depleted. The mining sector had benefited a lot from land, and the government now needed to balance and play its role to accommodate the interests of other sectors.

Inkosi Cebekhulu reminded the Minerals Council that coal and mining operations in the Northern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) area had left the area without rehabilitated water. He found it ironic that the Council could still defend their boss after all that.

Ms Tshwete said to the Council that Members had heard a lot of complaints from the people living in mining towns during the public hearings. The fact was that the negative impact of the degradation of agricultural land was irreversible. Mining companies got the licence to mine, but there was no rehabilitation after the mining operation was completed. The people who used to stay in those areas could not go back and plant or farm because the state of the land had already been changed. Some of the land which was occupied by mining had been agricultural land. The socio-economic benefits of mining were short-term and benefited only a few people, and its benefits definitely did not extend to communities.

She also assured the Council that the Bill did not intend to abolish mining, but sought to preserve agricultural land.

Mr Capa appealed for the Council to reconsider its position towards the Bill, because this Committee does not oppose mining and fully understood the importance of mining to this country’s economy.

He had found that there was an omission that the Council had not touched upon in its presentation, which was around the negative impact of mining which Members had heard about and witnessed during the public hearings.

He asked the Council why the mining sector, as part of this economy, should be exempted from regulations that sought to protect agricultural land.

Ms Mbabama indicated that although she would always take the side of the agricultural sector, she wanted to know the Council’s position and its suggestion as to how the government could balance the interests between the agricultural and mining sectors, since mining was source-dependent and may encroach on any agricultural land.

Mr Masipa explained to the Council that there was only 12% of plowable land which was left in the country, so the government needed to preserve whatever land that was available for agricultural purposes. The question was how to do it to protect food security and to ensure that land was available to support people.

He wanted to know the progress of the mining sector in rehabilitating the existing agricultural land that the sector had worked on. He highlighted that people in rural areas were being left behind because they were not being employed in those mining activities, so he asked the Council if there were any measures to ensure inclusion and protection of agricultural land.

He inquired about the communal land that happened to be agricultural land during the zoning process. What would happen if mining occurred in rural areas, because community members had complained to the Committee about having been removed from mining places and not being taken care of as promised. He asked the Council if there were any follow-up processes to care for this population.


Minerals Council

An official from the Council explained that the implication of “mining is source-dependant” was that mining could take place only where there was a mineral resource. Thus, land could not be demarcated from a mining planning perspective. It was hard to explore mineral resources underground. It was only when the resources were confirmed that it would be feasible to undertake mining in that area. The Council's concern was that should the Bill go into effect, and all areas of land were declared as agricultural land, it would not be possible to mine at all because mining could not be determined in advance.

The Council was very clear on the need for coexistence between mining and the other sectors. It was appealing to the Committee only to understand the effect of the wording of the Bill. The wording of the Bill meant that it would not be possible for the mining sector to coexist with other sectors. The Bill seemed to suggest that the agricultural sector would have preferential treatment over others. Hence, the Council appealed to the Committee to consider revising some of the wording in the Bill.

The Council was of the view that the multiple stakeholders sitting here in front of the Committee were an example of coexistence. Mining was a highly regulated activity which included environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and land rehabilitation after the end of the mining process. In addition, mining remained the only sector that was required to give an EIA prior to obtaining the licence. There was also one environmental system in place which streamlined the authorisation process for mining. s24 of NEMA provided integration of those processes, and the Department of Agriculture was one of the stakeholders being consulted in those processes. The Council appealed to the Committee that instead of creating new legislation, it should align that in the process to avoid duplication that could stifle economic activity.

On the question of “why mining should be exempted”, it had been pointed out that should the bill pass, it would be unlikely that any mining would be conducted. The official reiterated the value of mining to the South African economy. He also agreed that there needed to be a balance between the mining sector and other sectors. He highlighted the various economic benefits that mining activities had created, such as the City of Johannesburg. For instance, in the Vaal area in the Northern Cape, the mining company had footed the Bill for half the cost of a disintegrating water supply pipeline. He urged the Committee to objectively recognise the good work the mining sector had done for society.

Mining projects were often not known about. Mining companies were the only companies that had to submit social and labour plans by legislation. No other sector has contributed as much to socio-economic development as mining.

A member of the Minerals Council reiterated that the mining sector had been subjected to the fragmentation of the system, and many Committee Members might be aware that the mining industry had in the past been subjected to duplicated and fragmented authorisation processes. In certain instances, a mine could perhaps have an approved environmental management programme regarding the MPRDA, but the province would still require the same authorisation process from the mine. Another critical challenge that the one environmental system had resolved was the water use licence authorisation. In the past, there had been instances where a mine waited for over 10 to 15 years for that authorisation.

The Council was aware of quite a number of mining companies operating in high-value agricultural land. For some reason, there seemed to be a very good correlation between the mineral deposits and high-value agricultural land. Hence, the situation that they find themselves in this particular regard as far as the agro-ecosystem authorisation was concerned, was that there was already a process in place in terms of the environmental authorisation, where the agricultural potential was one of the critical things that were being looked at during the process. The Council could also attest that some of its members really went into detail in terms of understanding the status around the agricultural potential of the area, most importantly putting in place the necessary mitigation measures to ensure that the rehabilitation in that particular land could still support agricultural activities. The Council had also noticed a number of areas where there was mutual coexistence between mining and agriculture.

The Council reiterated that the mining sector in South Africa was highly regulated, compared to other economic activities. It was the only sector in which a closure planning was required by legislation. The closure planning included the aspect of rehabilitation.

Black Agricultural Commodities Federation on PDAL Bill

The Black Agricultural Commodities Federation (BACF) pointed out that an alarming percentage of the population, which amounted to 1.1 million households, did not have adequate access to food.

The Federation commended the land reform processes of South Africa’s three BRICS nation partners, India, China and Brazil. The lesson learnt was that agricultural transformation succeeded only when driven by the phenomenon of "Joined Up Government."

The Federation supported the Bill and proposed that its objectives should be aligned to those of the United Nation’s "Decade on Ecosystem Restoration: 2019 to 2030."

In addition to the clause-by-clause comments, the Federation also outlined its recommendations. These included:

  • Replicate India’s National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) experience across departmental boundaries. These would include the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and the Community Works Programme (CWP) and initiatives being undertaken with the Animal Veld Management Programme, the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) and the Farmer Production Support Units (FPSUs) introduced by the former DRDLR, and the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s programmes.
  • Provide state incentives for family farming and the support of production of agricultural commodities consumed most by the majority of people in rain-fed communal land areas. Such a state-driven investment would accelerate the attainment of a comprehensive and inclusive national food system and broaden household food security.

Some examples were given to highlight the achievements of indigenous farming, such as Umthunduluka (Red Orange), UmQokolo (Kei Apple), etc.

See attached for full submission


Ms Thlape asked the presenter to elaborate more on the differences in land reform between South Africa and China.  

She appreciated that the BACF had provided suggestions on how the Minister could deal with provincial agricultural sectors.

Ms Mbabama wanted to know what the EGY model was.

Mr Masipa asked the Federation what it would propose to include about communal land in the Bill, given that indigenous agricultural communities worked on communal land.

He noted the BACF’s input on promoting and giving effect by amplifying the voice of the disadvantaged users of the land. He therefore asked if the Federation had observed black-owned land being exploited by businesses, and sought more input on that.



The Federation replied that the EGY model referred to making land available to families as what China, India, etc. had undertaken. When households were allocated productive land for agriculture, just as much as the department was actually doing during the era of one household one hectare, there was no better way of protecting agricultural land than to give a responsibility to people and households. Thus, the EGY model referred to that kind of approach of providing land to households for production. He highlighted the genetic improvement program to improve the areas where animals were grazing and looking for food to improve genetics. So, if you give people that responsibility, then the state does not have to be the only fighter for the preservation of agricultural land. The Department of Agriculture cannot fight this war on its own. He agreed with Committee Members’ observations that agricultural land in the country was being used for residential purposes these days. It would require a collaborative inter-departmental effort to tackle this issue.

The Federation also commented on the close relationship between human and indigenous forests. Research records show that some of those forests grow nutritious fruits and people have been living in those forests with nature in a very sustainable way. Such sustainable agricultural method was far better than the modern-day use of poisonous fertilisers. But the Department of Infrastructure must assist in building roads to those regions so that those nutritious fruits could be transported to retail market which is much better than the poison we are eating from the retail stores today.

Inyanda National Land Movement and Rural Women's Assembly on PADL Bill

The Inyanda National Land Movement and Rural Women's Assembly made a detailed submission to the Committee.

Despite its acknowledgement of the improvement which the Bill aimed to address, the presentation highlighted that the PDAL Bill failed to:

  1. Recognise that “it is in the national interest to preserve and promote the sustainable development of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products for the primary purpose of sustaining and enhancing human life for the benefit of present and future generations” (Preamble, p.2).
  2. Acknowledge that high value agricultural land was a scarce and non-renewable resource and that the pressures exerted made it increasingly difficult to effectively and sustainably produce sufficient food.
  3. Acknowledge that the SA Constitution obliges the state to protect the environment for present and future generations and ensure everyone has sufficient food.

Among the list of recommendations, the organisation emphasised that:

  • The PDAL Bill included support for other agriculture methods of production – specifically agroecology – and compliance with Dr Orellana’s recommendations to the SA government to immediately ensure the safe destruction of existing stockpiles of hazardous pesticides.
  • The PDAL Bill spells out to what extent crop and livestock production in SA agricultural land would be prioritised to ensure food for all South Africans versus the prioritisation of an export-led model.

In conclusion, the organisation was of the view that the recommendations made during 2016/17 by the High-Level Panel on the assessment of key legislation and the acceleration of fundamental change (chaired by the former President Montlanthe), that several Bills in Parliament at the time be withdrawn as they were not meeting the constitutional rights of people living in the former homelands and not addressing land reform, remained valid. They submitted that the PDAL Bill failed similarly.

(Other recommendations could be referred to in the slides).


Ms T Breedt (FF Plus) referred to slide 11 of the presentation, and asked the presenter to provide an example of how agro-ecological farming leaders contributed to those plans.

Ms Thlape asked if the organisation supported the Bill or not, as the presentation did not clearly indicate its position. She noted that most of its submission contained recommendations. The Committee would need to take them up to the Department to consider before they got back to the Committee.

She implored stakeholders to bear in mind that the intention of government on the Bill was to protect and preserve agricultural land.

She disagreed with the unfunded mandate for local government, because this Bill sought to incorporate the cooperative governance element, and not take away what already existed.

Mr Masipa noted the organisation’s concern that the Bill’s wording of “high value crops” and “viable farming units” may be interpreted as exclusionary to emerging farmers. He reassured the organisation that since the Bill was about preserving agricultural land, high value land had to be scientifically proven. It was government’s duty to identify those high value lands, and he did not think it was the bill's intention to exclude emerging farmers.


The organisation confirmed to Ms Breedt that since March, a lot of work had been done as part of the plan to move forward in assisting small scale farmers to practise agroecology in rural communities in South Africa.

It explained what it considered high-value crops and a viable unit. Some experience that the organisation had learnt was that there were circumstances where people were encouraged to commercialise, thus displacing what already existed on the land. Gains and losses of the community and production were the two aspects that should be looked at.

The meeting was adjourned.

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