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AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
18 October 2004
PACE OF LAND REFORM: HEARINGS
Chairperson: Mr N Masithela (ANC)
Documents handed out
AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994
Brief Overview by Minister Didiza
Department's Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)
Transkei Land Service Organisation (TRALSO) Submission
Agricultural Business Consultant submission
Nkuzi Development Association submission
Inkezo Land Company presentation
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) submission
Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) submission
Ndima Community Services submission
Surplus Peoples’ Project (SPP) submission
Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) submission
Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA) submission
Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) submission
Surplus People Project letter
Willing Buyer - Willing Seller submission
The Committee conducted public hearings on the pace of land reform in South Africa. Most submissions lamented the slow pace of land reform; government’s apparent lack of political will to accelerate the process; government’s apparent lack of commitment to the process by no providing enough funding; the lack of co-ordination between government agencies and stakeholders; the failure of the "willing buyer / willing seller" principle and the lack of post-settlement assistance to new landowners or successful land claimants.
Members asked searching questions throughout, but were adamant that government did not lack the political will to successfully implement land reform and to meet the land redistribution and restitution targets set for 2015. Members were also firm in their rejection of suggestions that the 1913 start point for the land restitution process be revisited, pointing out that the date was the result of political agreements and Parliament’s legislative prerogative.
Minister Thoko Didiza provided a brief overview of the land reform policy over the last ten years, the obstacles encountered and the progress made to date.
Transkei Land Service Organisation submission
Mr Simbongile Kamtshe, Programme Manager: Transkei Land Service Organisation (TRALSO), conducted the submission (document attached) which expressed the frustrations and agony to which the victims of land removals have been exposed in the ten years of land reform implementation. The obstacles that hindered the implementation included lack of effective participation of stakeholders, serious capacity issues with the Department, over-reliance on the market and the general openness of South Africa’s land market to foreigners.
The Chair stated that the national and provincial departments’ personnel figures quoted in the presentation cannot be correct and must be updated.
Mr Kamtshe responded that the point he was making was that the Department continued to under-prioritise land reform.
A female ANC Member from the Limpopo province referred to Mr Kamtshe’s statement that the statistical situation might greatly skew the comparison of the urban and the rural claims, and asked how the process would affect the size of the portion of land in question.
Mr Kamtshe replied that his submission was very synoptic and it would thus be very difficult to rush back to the statistics. The fact of the matter was that the rural claims that were settled thus far were very few, probably because they were prevented by the 1913 cut-off date.
The female ANC Member from Limpopo asked Mr Kamtshe to indicate the proposed solution to the statement in the submission that very little land has changed hands between white and black farmers in the Eastern Cape as a result of the land restitution programme.
Mr Kamtshe responded that a significant number of the claims in the Eastern Cape that have been resolved since 2000 were settled via ‘cheque restitution’, as mentioned by the Minister during her address.
The Chairperson stated that his reading of the Eastern Cape statistics were different from those provided by Mr Kamtshe, and asked the Minister to provide some clarity.
Minister Didiza replied that she was under the impression that Mr Kamtshe was referring to the manner in which the Department calculated rural claims versus urban claims. When claims were lodged applicants would sign forms and, in most instances, communities and individuals came together to lodge a single claim. The Department would then explain that the claim in question represented x number of households. Yet in urban claims, people tended to register their claims as individual households. Perhaps TRALSO is suggesting that the process be reviewed. The total number of beneficiaries was quite high.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) asked Mr Kamtshe to indicate the level of commitment it needed from government in order to settle claims.
Mr Kamtshe responded that about 900 villages were removed through the Betterment system, and these claims were never brought back on board the process. This issue was brought to the attention of the Minister late last year and was entertained by the Department at the beginning of this year, and processes were set up to deal with this issue. Yet there was no indication whether these claims would be taken on board again, and the communities were concerned because they were wary of the 2005 deadline.
The Chair asked whether these communities claimed in time. Mr Kamtshe replied in the affirmative, but ‘they were kicked out of the process’. The claims did not qualify in terms of the process.
The Chair alerted Mr Kamtshe to the section in the Constitution that stipulated that claimants who did not qualify for particular restitution could still benefit from the land reform process.
Mr Kamtshe responded that he was aware of the section, but the concern was that there was no finality at this stage on the future of those claims.
The Chair stated that Mr Kamtshe would have to contact the Land Claims Commission (LCC) to find out how far the process had progressed.
Mr Radebe asked Mr Kamtshe to name the people who were razing houses of members of the community, as mentioned in his submission.
Mr Kamtshe replied that court cases have been instituted in some of these cases against individuals. There were unfortunately suspicions of collusion involving certain South African Police Services (SAPS) officials within the community. All these cases have been documented and were currently with the Land Claims Court.
Minister Didiza responded that it was important for government to assist with the issue of the Betterment claims, to indicate the challenges facing this process. A year ago the Department was approached by the Border Rural Committee (BRC) expressing confusion whether Betterment schemes were covered under the Restitution of Land Act (the Act). A number of communities did not register as claimants but others did, but other communities who approached the Commission were told that they did not fit the restitution criteria. Thus some of the claims were addressed and resolved, and the BRC thus questioned whether government would not want to review this matter and consider it sensitively given that some claimants were actually discouraged from claiming when they wanted to claim because of the lack of clarity.
She stated that she informed the BRC that she would have to consult her former colleague Minister Hanekom and the former Director-General whether an exclusion policy existed. The response from the Director-General indicated that confusion did exist, however some of the issues may be better dealt with under Section 6(2)(b) of the Act. The Department believed that this would not be an easy process because it needed wide consensus, and understanding of the impact of the process and resource constraints. The Department informed the BRC that if this matter needed to be finalised at any time, Parliament would clearly have to express itself because it would be tantamount to reopening an issue.
Ms Ntuli sought clarity as to who signed the 7-year lease agreements. Mr Kamtshe responded that since 2000 a process has been put in place to expedite the forestry land restitution process. Some of the large commercial forests were categorised as Class A forests. Mr Kamtshe stated that he was referring to these large forests which were located on property that was currently subject to land claims by various communities. The problem was that on the one hand there was a structured process set up by the Department to settle land claims, yet on the other hand a parallel process was set up by the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry which included arrangements such as equity share schemes. In most cases the latter dealt with individuals within the same community. A process had been launched to verify the actual claimants of the land, because in most cases the true claimants were not represented in the forestry restructuring process.
Both TRALSO and the communities were involved in the signing of the lease agreements, but no one was aware of a process that sought to articulate what would be done to cater for the interests of the claimants. TRALSO was however aware that certain monetary payments were being made in some cases, but there was no certainty as to how this would be reconciled within the restitution process because it appeared that a conflict was brewing.
The Chair stated that he continues to grant Mr Kamtshe the opportunity to clarify himself, yet he continues to raise additional questions in his replies. He should instead simply respond to the questions posed to him by Members.
Minister Didiza informed Members that the issue of the restructuring of forests was related to the restructuring of the South African Forestry Corporation Limited (SAFCOL). There was no divergence in the manner in which the Commission and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry dealt with the process. In practice claimants or communities in a forest land claim who were direct land owners and those who had grazing rights would benefit from the restructuring process, and the options of the lease agreement would then be worked out jointly. If TRALSO experienced that some of these consultations were not proper, then the Department would address the matter together with the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
Mr Kamtshe stated that people’s land rights have been violated and there was no legal processes that could protect those people.
The Chair stated that if people’s human rights were being affected then the Committee must be informed of the perpetrators, and if members of the SAPS were involved then the National or Provincial Commissioner or even the MEC should be alerted. The Minister added that the matter was currently before court.
Agricultural Consulting Services submission
Mr J Every, an agricultural business consultant, conducted the submission (document attached) which stated that white farmers have generally been sidelined from the Black Economic Empowerment process and the land reform initiative and that many land reform projects have failed due to funding issues and due to a negative perception of agriculture in the minds of black South Africans across the country.
Ms Ntuli asked Mr Every to elaborate on his statement on the perception of agriculture in the minds of black people.
Mr Every responded that the commercial sector has been trying for 3 years to get Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) corporates and white persons involved in commercial agriculture, as it was very difficult to convince them that agriculture was a good sector to invest in. A cause of this perception could be that the media tended to portray agriculture in a negative light, and it needed to be portrayed in a positive light to make people understand that it had a crucial role to play in transforming the country. Yet the budgets did not seem to focus sufficiently on agriculture to ensure that it delivers what it could potentially deliver.
The Chair stated that this could not be stated as fact, because the black Members of the Committee reflected the country’s realisation that the agricultural sector was an important tool. Perhaps the Committee could direct Mr Every to people who were keen to participate in the agricultural sector.
Dr A Van Niekerk (DA) asked whether existing agricultural projects were going ahead, whether they were sustainable and whether problems were being encountered.
Mr Every replied that there were a number of projects, including one in the Tsitsikama region, with Fort Hare University and resuscitation of irrigation schemes. The aim was to partner the project over a 5-10 year period, and not to provide skills on a consulting basis but to take a financial stake in the venture. This was a departure from current practice where white commercial farmers accepted the funds and advised projects. The projects that have been tackled in this way have been highly successful, and a R600m expansion in the Eastern Cape was on the cards if funding could be secured.
Dr E Schoeman (ANC) asked Mr Every to indicate the sectors in which he envisaged greater exporting opportunities.
Mr Every responded that his company had gone into the rest of Africa to explore business opportunities, and it was clear that South Africa had the greatest potential out of all the African countries. South Africa really had a first world infrastructure and could grow products and export them world-wide. Kenya for example had a huge hydroponics produce export market, largely flowers, when its infrastructure was not nearly as advanced as South Africa’s.
Dr Schoeman asked whether Mr Every considered that there were other areas in Transkei that could be tapped to realise its potential, and that it was not a very simplistic approach.
Mr Every replied that he was not trying to simplify the situation in the Transkei as he knew that there were communal and other issues, but many rivers emptied onto the Transkei coast and they had huge potential to be harnessed. This remained a largely untapped economic opportunity.
Dr Schoeman asked whether the R30 billion referred to by Mr Every was only the value of the agricultural land, or whether it took into account the production needs that would have to accompany such a transfer.
Mr Every responded that this was his estimate relating to ground only, and nothing else.
The Chair suggested that there was no scientific basis on which that figure had been calculated.
Mr Every replied that the 1993 census suggested R45 billion and, based on the performance of land prices, it was not unrealistic to extrapolate it to at least double in a ten year period. He stated that he was of the view that land his company has bought has more than doubled over the period. The figure of R30 billion was thus not sucked out of mid-air, but did have some substance.
Mr L Greyling (ID) agreed that insufficient funds were being allocated to the agriculture sector, but a figure as large as R40 billion would not be possible. He asked whether the progressive farmers referred to by Mr Every were suggesting any other options to expediting the process without having to put such a large amount of money forward.
Mr Every responded that 2 years were spent trying to find out why land could not be transferred from white ownership to black ownership. One of the issues was for white farmers to become involved rather than to stand on the sidelines. Efforts were currently being made to tap into the value chain of agriculture across the board to raise funding to subsidise the interest on loan funding, because it was not possible to tap into non-loan funding sources. This process had only just begun but an enormously positive response was received.
Mr Greyling asked Mr Every to explain his vision for the Transkei area, especially with regard to small-scale farming.
Mr Every replied that both small-scale and commercial farming was an option. A possible option was to grow macadamia nuts in the region, as there was a world shortage of this product. The problem was that the rural people and the leaders in those areas must be educated on the possibilities within the areas, and it was time that the businesspeople in the agriculture sector suggested ideas for the stimulation of the economy in those areas.
Mr Radebe asked how white farmers in particular, could be sidelined during the ‘BEE hype’, because an agricultural sector plan had been adopted through the Ministry and the President’s Office. All the agricultural stakeholders had gathered to focus on the issues contained in the sector plan itself.
Mr Every responded that his company was battling at grassroots level with BEE in agriculture, because it was just impossible to find funders.
Mr Radebe asked Mr Every to suggest means by which the transfer of land from the white to black farmers could be expedited, especially with regard to the problem of funding. This was the crux of the matter.
Mr Every replied that the white farmers have not been afforded the latitude of pushing up their prices. In the meantime his company has bought commercial property through normal funding procedures with one of the commercial banks, and it was now in the process of transferring that property back from the commercial banks into the staff. This allowed them time to access the Department and their process for providing funding. The frustrations remained that the budgetary allocation for land reform was totally insufficient, especially when one considered the need for such funding.
The female ANC Member from Limpopo requested Mr Every to explain how the bank lending rules can be relaxed.
Mr Every responded that he could not answer for the banks, and he had no answer to this problem. He stated that his company has taken the banks to task on this matter. Meetings were scheduled to address the matter, and the Financial Charter imposed a mandate on them to get BEE initiatives off the ground.
The female ANC Member from Limpopo asked Mr Every to explain the budgetary norms he would suggest to ensure sufficient funds were allocated for land reform. She stated that SADC countries proposed 10% of the entire government budget be allocated to land reform.
A female ANC Member asked Mr Every how he ensured that farmers did not ask unreasonable prices for their land by inflating their prices, especially in view of the manner in which they acquired those farms in the first place
Mr Every replied that his budget analysis was based on the value of the ground. The key question for him was how the funds would be raised. If it were not raised by the Department then it would have to be raised probably by the seller ‘coming to the party’ with some sort of financial structure, which was the route currently being explored by tapping into the agriculture value chain. It was thus based on the value of the ground that would have to be transferred.
A female ANC Member asked Mr Every to explain why there was a perception among black people that agriculture was not a viable option, and the later statement in which he thanked government for its initiative in tackling the issues at hand, as the two appeared contradictory.
Mr Every responded that he had addressed this issue earlier, but would do so a final time. He battled with the perception issue regarding the acquisition of finance, and he simply sought an explanation as to why the funds have not been allocated to the agricultural sector. He stated that his statement was not contradictory, because in summing up he thanked the Committee for the opportunity to ask why the funds had not been allocated.
Nkuzi Development Association submission
Mr Lucas Mufamadi, Executive Director: Nkuzi Development Association, recommended that government develop a vision for land reform; an integrated delivery process at municipality level; more effective land acquisition; secure farm dwellers’ rights through legislation; develop business skills within communities, deal with obstructive land owners and improve and prioritise land reform implementation.
DiscussionDr G P Mayende, Department Director-General, stated that the representation had been quite positive and raised issues that the Department itself was grappling with. Having said this, he wanted to place on record with regard to the reference made to an area-based approach, that the Department was considering redistribution and tenure reform. Yet restitution would only become applicable in such a situation if a municipality were really saturated with claims. Such areas were few and far between, and it was thus not a strategy that could be used across the country. The danger in this approach was that it could create the impression amongst non-claimants in a particular area that they would benefit when in fact they could not.
Mr Mufamadi replied that the are- based approach to land reform does not only concentrate on restitution but also takes into consideration redistribution and tenure issues. The basic point of departure was that this approach identified needs first, and it was a proactive approach in that it allowed those needs to be addressed rather than waiting for people to complain that their needs were not being catered for.
Dr Van Niekerk requested Mr Mufamadi to indicate his organisation’s view on ownership of land in Section 25 of the Constitution, or whether it should take another form.
Mr Mufamadi responded that Nkuzi accepted the property clause but asserted that emphasis must not be placed on market value when land was supposed to be acquired for use by black communities. The current use of the property must be taken into consideration, the history of the acquisition of that land as well as the extent of the direct state investment in the land.
Mr D Dlali (ANC) stated that the submission indicated that the strategic plans for agriculture operated with only certain organised landowners, and that a place would have to be created for white commercial farmers in the strategy. He asked Mr Mufamadi to elaborate on that statement and to indicate whether he meant that the few organised landowners were not part of white commercial landowners.
Mr Mufamadi replied that in order for land reform to address rural development issues government must envisage the rural society it wanted to create. The submission asserted that there was not broad consultation when the strategic plan was drafted, as only a few landowners were consulted. In order for land reform to occur in a manner in which society could benefit would actually require the skills and experience of the white commercial farmers, and Nkuzi did not see a contradiction in this regard. The time will however eventually come when the new owners would run the show.
The Chair stated that Mr Dlali was indicating that the statement suggested that only black farmers were consulted in the drafting of the strategy.
Mr Mufamadi responded that organised agriculture was represented mainly by white commercial farmer organisations that were consulted. There was no contradiction in saying that land reform must take into consideration what the white commercial farmers can contribute towards ensuring that agricultural ventures that many black beneficiaries would enter into would become a success.
Mr Dlali stated that the submission indicated that the Department should be proactive in acquiring viable settlements for farm dwellers in commercial farm areas. He asked whether Mr Mufamadi meant that commercial land that was identified should be made available for settlement. This could be achieved by the white commercial farmers actually donating a piece of land to the farm workers to work on as their own.
Mr Mufamadi responded that if tenure of farm dwellers and farm workers was to be ensured government would have to create settlements within the white commercial farms.
Mr Dlali asked Mr Mufamadi to indicate whether the submission suggested that the regional lands claim commission staff were pushing for the strategic agreements.
Mr M Ngema (IFP) stated that in some cases the regional land claims commissioners were involved in setting up business ventures with assets and operations worth hundreds of millions, and were done without any skills that were needed to assess the potential of the venture.
Mr Mufamadi replied that Nkuzi was arguing that, although it was not the Land Claims Commission’s primary responsibility to deal with such deals, it would help the Commission to harness the business skills of those people in order for them to get assistance in transferring prime agricultural land which made a turnover of millions of Rands per year. This kind of land must be assessed properly before land transfer takes place, in order to ensure sustainable land activity on the farm after its transferral.
The Chief Land Claims Commissioner responded that an award made by a court was effective and the implementation process could then begin. The same applied to the signing of the Section 42(d) process when the Minister signed the award. The land policy stipulated that the claims must be settled within 5 years, and then allowed a time period of 10 years for the implementation of the restitution awards. In terms of Section 42(d) once the privately owned land has been settled, 50% would be paid over and all the other conveyance processes would follow.
The release of funds was usually based on discretionary grants that could be drawn down on the basis of business plans. If the communities took a long time in producing those business plans it would then delay the release of the grants to the communities. The communities thus needed assistance in order to develop those business plans.
The current practice of the Commissioner with regard to business skills was to identify strategic partners who would enter into agreements with the community to assist it in the production process, and ensuring that the land remains productive. The challenge was finding the best strategic partner for each of the land types.
The female ANC Member from the Limpopo province stated that the submission was loaded. She asked Mr Mufamadi to explain what, in his view, would represent an area in terms of their area-based approach.
Mr Mufamadi responded that the area-based land reform approach focused on municipal boundaries. Due to the nature of claims in those areas in which there were many claims, they actually extended beyond the municipality. In such cases the extended area would be considered, but no further than the district demarcation.
The Chair asked whether Mr Mufamadi was aware of Chapter 3 of the Constitution that dealt with the independence of the three spheres of government. Mr Mufamadi replied in the affirmative.
Dr Schoeman stated that he did not understand the assertion that the state owned land that was made available to the previously disadvantaged did not change the balance of land ownership in this country.
Mr Mufamadi responded that it did make inroads into land ownership, but it did not change the racial nature of land ownership in the country. In fact much of the state land that was given back to communities was actually already part of the previous government’s plan to consolidate the ‘Bantustans’.
Inkezo Land Company submission
After the lunch break, Ms N Mona, CEO, reported that the company had been established by the South African Sugar Association (SASA) in November 2003, and had been operating since April 2004. Its objectives were to affect land redistribution in the sugar industry within a framework of the government target of redistributing 30% of agricultural lands by 2015. Land redistribution was implemented on a ‘willing buyer/ willing seller principle.’ Ms Mona listed insufficient funding, unnecessary bureaucratic red tape, the lack of co-ordination between Department and stakeholder interests, and insufficient production money as major challenges to the success of Inkezo.
Mr A Nel (DA) asked what type of transactions their land redistribution involved. Did they simply transfer ownership of land or did they lease out land to farmers or implement share schemes for tracts of land? Ms Nona said that leasing was possible so long as the land was leased out to those parties approved for land claims. Their primary objective was to transfer the remaining 78 000 ha of land by 2014.
Ms M Nkompe-Ngwenya (ANC) wanted to know what responsibilities Inkezo derived from the ambit of SASA. Was there an overlapping of responsibilities amongst Inkezo, SASA and the Department? Mr D Dlali (ANC) wondered whether the stated need for greater co-ordination would result in duplication of responsibilities and resources.
Ms Nona replied that Inkezo was funded and created by SASA. Its own vision was contained within the broader vision of SASA. Inkezo was dealing with the Departments of Agriculture, and Labour, the Provincial Land Commissions and numerous other organisations with which it could share ideas and goals. There was an overlap of activities and responsibilities across the various institutions but this was positive, since Inkezo was an infant company still learning how to build its capacity.
Dr H Mateme (ANC) asked whether official studies had been conducted to assess land suitable for sugarcane farming. If there have not been such investigations how is Inkezo able to identify 78 000 ha of land for redistribution? Ms Nona responded that her company did not conduct studies because the 78 000 ha they targeted was already a portion of the 30% set out by government for redistribution. Furthermore, free hold land transfers arise through a market-based approach, which automatically qualifies land for sugar farming.
Mr Dlali asked why ‘production money’ was a major challenge to Inkezo? Was fund money not being properly managed?
Ms Nona said there was not enough money available through funds to help emerging farmers acquire basic tools and equipment for farming, such as hoes, tractors and seed.
The Chairperson noted that more money needed to be injected into the project. This money should come both from government and the private sector.
South African Human Rights Commission submission
The presenters were Mr J Kollapen, Chairperson, and Ms J Cohen, Parliamentary Officer. Mr Kollapen stated that democracy world-wide was in a state of crisis because of its failure to secure basic human rights for the poor. A recent study of democracies in Latin America revealed that over 50% of the population would prefer an authoritarian regime. Our government should critically address land reform against this backdrop.
Mr Kollapen said there was a prevailing misconception in this country about ‘equality’. Equality meant necessarily treating people differently, particularly over land reform. For the past six years landowners have blocked a housing project in Gauteng called Cosmo City because they equate their rights to own the land with the rights of the proposed Cosmo City residents. He said this was an incorrect application of human rights principles; a problem recurring throughout the country, often resulting in expensive court hearings that wasted government time and resources.
In conclusion, Mr Kollapen felt the pace of land reform was too slow, that a yawning gap existed between policy and implementation, and that ESTA was failing to protect people’s rights. Ms Cohen said the Department could accelerate land reform if it relieved budgetary constraints, improved co-ordination and integration of departmental and institutional stakeholder interests, addressed the acquisition of land by foreigners and strengthened monitoring and evaluating mechanisms.
Mr Nel asked whether expropriation was in the public interest? Mr Kollapen replied that expropriation was not a taboo concept in terms of human rights. Government should embrace expropriation more readily because it supports the public interest.
Mr Dlali asked what the distinction was between the classes of farmer. What was an emerging farmer next to a poor farm dweller? Why was the SAHRC claiming slow land reform in one part of the presentation, but in another part it was reporting year to year improvements? How detrimental to land restitution was clumsy bureaucratic structures? Were these within the Department? Did willing sellers of land lose interest because bureaucratic processing was too slow, or were they actually unwilling to participate in government programmes?
Mr Kollapen replied that year-to-year improvements did not relieve the fact that land reform was too slow. These improvements were simply not large enough to meet government targets. Ms Cohen said the distinction was thin and unclear between emerging farmers and the landless poor. The SAHRC intended to debate the matter with Land Redistribution and Agricultural Development (LRAD). At the moment the landless poor are not able to join LRAD because they do not possess start-up capital. Perhaps these persons could provide labour instead. Emerging farmers are those persons who can raise initial capital input.
The Chairperson interjected that LRAD did not exclude anybody from its programme.
Ms Cohen said the Department was guilty of slow bureaucratic procedures. Landowners approached the Department with offers of land that were later rescinded because the Department was not quick enough to respond. In some cases landowners were uncooperative and unwilling to assist the programme.
Mr T Ramphele (ANC) noted that land expropriation threatened fundamental human rights such as access to education, health and water. Was it possible to expropriate land without violating any human rights?
Mr Kollapen said that if expropriation secured the public interest in accordance with Section 25(4)(a) of the Land Expropriation Act, then human rights were not violated.
Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked which land constituted rural land tenure. The SAHRC reported a general lack of criminal prosecutions in human rights cases. Why was this? Lastly, why did the report recommend a Farmers Community Forum and an ESTA monitoring mechanism when there were already forums and monitoring structures in place?
Mr Kollapen replied that rural land tenure referred to all non-urban sectors. These were experiencing slow rates of land reform. Weak law enforcement was attributable to all law enforcing agencies across the country. Trespassing on farms often resulted in a conviction, because the farmer could afford a lengthy and expensive court hearing. However, when a farm dweller was murdered the state was unable to secure a criminal prosecution because it was too under-resourced. Ms Cohen said the SAHRC had discovered that many law enforcement agencies lacked knowledge of farmer’s rights. One senior police official in KwaZulu- Natal admitted that for five years he had not known about ESTA. This was unacceptable. She added that ESTA forums were not operating in all the provinces. It was up to the Department to ensure this. The Department needed to explore ways of bringing all stakeholders, including NGOs and civil society, together in regular forums.
Programme for Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) submission
The presenters were Mr E Lahiff and Mr R Hall (see attached document). They criticised the slow pace of land reform, the market approach to land acquisitions, budgetary constraints, planning, strategy and project design, and a substantial lack of resources for land reform. The presentation pointed out ‘limited capacity within state agencies, including the Department of Land Affairs, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, the provincial Departments of Agriculture and local government.’ Mr Lahiff recommended a capital budget of R1 billion per annum. The presently allotted R45 million in the MTEF for 2005/6 would not be sufficient to address the backlog of projects and meet the 2015 target of transferring 30% of agricultural land.
Mr Dlali asked why PLAAS recommended auctions as a suitable and affordable method of land acquisition. Poor people would not be able to participate in auctions. With regard to ‘inappropriate project design and poor planning,’ the presentation referred to ‘untested enterprises.’ What were untested enterprises?
Mr Lahiff said that there was a discrepancy between Land Reform policy and the way the land market worked. In the land market transfers of land took place through auctions. It would be wise for the Department to make use of auctions as a transaction mechanism. ‘Untested enterprises’ were new enterprises in an industry owned by persons with no experience of the industry. They were failing to make their capital loan repayments because their businesses were barely able to compete with experienced businesses.
Mr Ramphele felt that the Land Reform programme was inherently a proactive strategy. Why was PLAAS now recommending that the programme adopt a proactive strategy?
Mr Lahiff responded that although Land Reform was ordered and systematic, it was not engaging the response of people on the ground. How did these people feel about their land needs? How did they feel about the present rate of land reform? These are issues the Department must address.
Dr Mateme asked what was a reasonable length of negotiations with landowners to release suitable land. Would PLAAS be able to guide the Department through implementing monitoring mechanisms?
Mr Lahiff replied that the length of negotiations should differ from case to case. By and large, it would be a process of ‘learning by doing.’ Ms Hall said there was limited capacity within the Department to integrate land reform with IDP processes. A key challenge was to link IDP to spatial and budgetary planning and to onsite investment planning.
Ndima Community Services submission
Ndima Community Services supports land and development initiatives in the ‘extremely marginalised far north of our country’. Mr Chiluba, speaking in Venda, presented the case of his community. They were frequently intimidated by white farmers, evicted from their houses, denied access to water, and coerced into accepting money to vacate their houses. He said white farmers had killed members of his community. He had lodged various complaints with his municipality and local council but they had not responded. Now he had travelled 1400 kilometres to formally request the intervention of the Committee.
A heated debate ensued. Committee members wanted to discuss the matter further with Mr Chiluba, but the Chairperson wanted to move on to the next presentation. An agreement was eventually reached whereby several Committee Members left the venue with the Ndima group to interview Mr Chiluba. They would report to the Committee at a later stage and recommend their solution.
No questions were directed to this organisation.
Surplus Peoples Project (SPP) submission
Ms A Stagler reported that the SPP was an NGO servicing the poor and landless in the Northern and Western Cape. Ms Stagler listed the following impediments to land reform in the Northern and Western Cape: limited political will; inadequate budget for land and agrarian reform; willing buyer willing seller approach to land transfers; lack of comprehensive post settlement support; lack of access to water and inadequate coordination between government and department spheres.
A representative of the Brandvlei community presented their case to Parliament. He was a member of the Brandvlei Emerging Farmers Association, located near Kimberly, which had submitted a request to the Department of Land Affairs to buy a section of land that was selling at R150 per hectare. The Department delayed processing the request, in which time the landowner’s asking price increased to R160. The Department stated its unwillingness to pay more than R155 per hectare, and turned down the transaction. The emerging farmers are still without land.
Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) said that the statement that there was limited political will on behalf of government was incorrect. The government has to date processed over 50 000 land claims. Of course some claims are not going to be settled; government will never be able to claim a 100% success rate. The Brandvlei deal was not entirely the fault of the Department, which could not reasonably accept the asking price of R160. Where there are administrative delays it is often the fault of two parties and not just one.
Ms Stagler said the claims of the SPP document were based explicitly on the experiences of the SPP. These experiences suggested the government’s lack of conviction on the land reform programme. The inadequate Departmental budget demonstrated most clearly that the government was not committed enough to meeting its targets.
Trust for Community Outreach and Education (TCOE) submission
Mr Siviwe Mdoda outlined the TCOE project, a collective of NGOs participating in rural development in three provinces. The TCOE suggested the following to the Committee: the willing seller willing buyer approach should be reviewed with a forum for debating alternatives; the budget for land reform should be increased; the state should play a more proactive role in land reform; local governments should be restructured to participate more effectively in land reform; capacity building and education programmes should be established at universities and technikons in rural areas to enhance agricultural skills; and government needed to consult more with communities and form partnerships to assist their interests.
Several representatives from communities of the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Limpopo province presented their cases to the Committee. They variously reported lack of access to the land reform programmes. Government appeared to side with wealthy landowners and parastatal companies when disputes arose over land. The Struisbaai community, dispossessed in the 1960s, were still awaiting restitution. Shamwari Game Reserve has expanded its borders, consuming grazing lands belonging to the people. Government has refused to grant money to a community that wants to open a fish-processing factory. Several communities wanted the cut off date for restitution extended and the Peelton community asked to have the 1913 date for originating land claims reviewed and set further back.
Dr Schoeman said there was a difference between the requests of the written submission and the requests of the presenters. The Committee did not have the power to extend restitution dates and he was certain they would be unable to change the 1913 date for original land claims. What did the presenters suggest as an alternative to 1913?
Mr Mdoda replied that massive land redistribution had not taken place prior to 1913. The TCOE was asking the Department to consult those cases before 1913 with valid documentary evidence of land dispossession.
The Chairperson overruled Mr Mdoda’s request. He said that Parliament had deliberated carefully over what date to set for land restitution. It had not simply sucked the date out of its thumb. The Committee would support this date because it was the result of lengthy political debates.
Ms Ngaleka referred to a claim by one presenter that community members were being pushed into accepting compensation money for land. Department officials were not mandated to encourage compensation grants. Who had been doing this ‘pushing’?
Mrs I Uitlander responded that in the case of Struisbaai, much of the disputed land was being earmarked for prime property developments. Various stakeholders in the land informed the claimants subtly that they would be better off accepting money because they have little hope of acquiring the land. Department officials had also suggested covertly to claimants that they should take money rather than hold out for lengthy litigation.
Land Access Movement of South Africa (LAMOSA) submission
The presentation voiced concern about the 1913 cut-off date for restitution claims; the ‘willing buyer willing seller’ market approach; lack of political will; inadequate budgeting and spending; limited success of ESTA in preventing illegal evictions; weak post-settlement and development strategies for land, water and agriculture; and the non-participatory approach to policy formulation.
LAMOSA recommended that the Department create ‘a land summit with all stakeholders and Agreement to Fundamental review of existing land reform policy,’ and a moratorium on evictions of farm dwellers. Better co-ordination of Department spheres and stakeholder interests, and an improved budget was necessary to accelerate land reform.
No questions were directed to this organisation.
Landless Peoples Movement (LPM) submission
The LPM operated in nine provinces and intervenes in rural and urban evictions and in human rights abuses in farm areas. The presentation expressed disappointment at the government’s failure to hold a National Land Summit, as requested by the LPM. Land reform was too slow and the land redistribution processes were not accommodating the financial constraints of the poor. Submissions for land claims comprised a R5000 application fee. Most of the poor represented by the LPM could not afford this amount. The market approach to land redistribution was not working, and government must make better use of its expropriation powers. Agricultural Black Economic Empowerment was focused too narrowly on creating a black middle class and was ignoring the landless and the poor. Poor farm worker and farm tenure conditions needed to be seriously addressed.
The PMG monitor unfortunately had to leave at 7pm, before the questions to above submission. The Landless People's Movement also presented a submission after that (all the relevant submission documents are attached).