Land and Tenure Reform & Land Planning and Information Branches of Department of Land Affairs: briefing

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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


8 February 2005

Mr N Masithela (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Land Planning and Information Branch presentation

Land and Tenure Reform branch



The Land Planning and Information division and the Land and Tenure Reform division of the Department of Land Affairs, presented the committees with an overview of their branches.

The Land Planning and Information division is divided into four chief directorates: Surveys and Mapping, Spatial Planning and Information, Cadastral Surveys and Deeds Registration. The Chief of each Directorate presented the committees with further insight into their respective areas of responsibility and replied to questions posed by Members. The Deeds Registration unit spoke of the troubles it had had in dealing with the State Information and Technology Agency which had not delivered in terms of the units need’s for IT solutions and was more a hindrance rather than a help. Also discussed was the implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act which was meant to be rolled out on a national basis but due to budgetary limitations set by Treasury, it could only be done in a phased manner.

The Land and Tenure Reform division has two directorates: Land Reform Implementation and Management Co-ordination and Land Reform Systems and Support Services. The briefing looked at the following areas: Land Tenure Programme, Redistribution Programme, State Land Management, Land Delivery

The Committee asked the Land and Tenure Reform division about delivery, accreditation, sector guidelines for spatial planning, land reform data, differing price valuations, the reliability of maps, and transformation in the field of surveying. The Department’s division for land and tenure reform then described their two chief directorates, their three programmes, and the progress made with land reform. The Committee particularly discussed expropriation, the quality of legislation, the progress made in meeting the 2015 redistrubution targets, as well as budgetary constraints.

Land Planning and Information branch: Department of Land Affairs

Dr N Makgalemele (Deputy Director-General, Land Planning and Information) said that the primary function of her branch was to ensure orderly and sustainable development and provision of security of land rights. The Directorate for Surveys and Mapping was responsible for the maintenance of a National Control Survey System, National Aerial Photography and Imagery, a National Map series, Map Awareness and Literacy and the co-ordination of a Surveying Bursary Scheme, in order to improve representation in the profession. The Directorate for Spatial Planning and Information took on the task of Redressing Apartheid Settlement Patterns, Draft Legislation and Policy, Formulating Spatial Development Frameworks, Preparing and Implementing Environmental Guidelines and Maintaining Spatial data Infrastructure. The functions of Cadastral Surveys were the Processing of Survey Documents, examination and approval of Diagrams, General Plans and Sectional Plans, Maintenance of Cadastral Information, Review of Surveying Legislation and Transformation of the Surveying Profession. The Directorate for Deeds Registration took on the Registration of Land and Real Rights in Land, the Maintenance of the Land Register, Preservation of Registration Records, Review of Legislation and was in the process of introducing e-Cadastre, by which deeds could be lodged electronically.

Surveys and Mapping
Mr Derek Clarke, Chief Directorate of Surveys and Mapping, covered the legislation and policies applicable to his area, as well as his duties. The purpose of the Directorate was to provide national mapping, aerial photography and other imagery in support of national infrastructure and sustainable development, as well as the provision of professional and technical services in support of land reform and other public services. He said that their unique spatial reference framework provided integrated, accurate positioning, connected locally, nationally and even internationally. They did this with a network of permanent beacons across the country, using the Global Positioning Network. The unit also was involved with the imaging of the earth’s surface to record what exists and collection of spatial information and the representation of this information through maps and other spatial visualisations. Examples were shown to members. The Directorate also continued to provide development assistance to SADC countries, mapping Africa for Africa and surveying international boundaries for Aeronautical charting.

Spatial Planning and Information
Mr Kaba Kabagmabe, Chief Directorate of Spatial Planning and Information, said that the purpose of his programme was to establish and maintain a system for Spatial Planning, Land Use Management and Spatial Information in South Africa. It had three components, being Spatial Planning Facilitation, which dealt with issues around land use policies and regulations, National Spatial Information Framework, and Spatial Development Framework, which provided technical guidelines. At present the unit only had an office in Pretoria, but there would be offices established in all the provinces. Among key service areas were the regulation of the planning profession and setting up of environmental guidelines for land reform, in order to ensure sustainability. A core challenge faced by the unit was the restructuring of the country’s settlement patterns to ensure greater equity and efficiency. A situation existed at present where buffer zones separated black settlements from white settlements and the economic activity in the white areas exceeded the population, while the situation was reversed in the black areas. Another challenge was transforming the Planning profession to ensure representation and professional ethics. A council had been set up to oversee this appointed by the Minister. The unit would make its information more accessible for the purposes of development and land reform.

Cadastral Surveys
Mr A van den Berg set out the structure of the Chief Directorate of Cadastral Surveys and said that the unit fulfilled two primary functions: a control function and an information function. The Cadastral System was based on four pillars, the first two being the actual survey work and archiving of that information, while the last two pillars were carried by the Deeds Registration unit. Mr van den Berg explained which Acts controlled the system. They were the so-called PLATO Act, which controlled education, registration and discipline of surveyors and the Land Survey Act. A New Profession Bill was in the offing that would significantly transform the profession. He discussed the various regulations that affect surveying and the fact that the Communal Land Rights Act would require some minor amendments to those regulations, but that the Land Survey Act was flexible enough to cater for it. Regulations had been decreased from 78 to 29 and this had the practical effect of shortening turnaround times from three months to three weeks for the registration of surveys. He said that along with this change had come a change in mindset, where the unit did not look for reasons to reject the registration, but rather for reasons to approve it. The unit provided assistance in the process of Land Reform by doing restitution research, the appointment of Land Surveyors, doing surveys for sketch plans and providing IT and GIS support. Future challenges faced by the unit were the digital lodgement of surveys, representation in the profession and decentralisation.

Deeds Registration
Mr Sam Lefafa, Chief Register of Deeds, said that no deed could be registered without a survey diagram and his unit therefore worked closely with the Cadastral Surveys unit. He said the deeds registration system in South Africa was one of the best in the world and that although the state did not guarantee title, the system in effect did, with the help of the four pillars, as alluded to earlier on in the presentation. In South Africa there had been no claims between owners for many years, because once a property was registered it was unassailable and could only be overturned by order of the court. In other countries insurance needed to be taken out for your title.

The unit was currently reviewing all legislation relating to land registration and aligning the Deeds Registration Act with the Constitution. The unit was preparing for the implementation of the e-Cadastre system, which would allow conveyencers to lodge deeds electronically and land surveyors to lodge diagram deeds electronically, subject to their accreditation by the necessary authorities. This system was of world class standard. Currently the Netherlands also had an electronic system, which was considered the best system of registration in the world by the World Bank. Norway was cited as having one of the fastest systems of registration. Their system of registration was a very simple one, however, with an agreement of sale only being necessary. The actual title deed took much longer and was a legalistic process.

The Deeds Registration Act in South Africa was very simple, but many laws were related to it. Currently it took ten days to get a title through the system. Pretoria, due to its size, took up to eleven to twelve days, since up to 2000 deeds could be lodged on a daily basis, and with Cape Town up to 1800 per day. These high numbers were a cause for delay. There were three levels of examination: junior, senior and so-called super-senior. The standard of conveyancing, however, was not up to scratch and most of the lodgements were rejected. Rejections needed to be re-lodged and the process would have to be started all over again. This was often the real cause for the delay experienced by clients.

The Deeds Registry Act and the e-Cadastre system would greatly expedite matters and the intention of the unit was to shorten the process of lodgement to three days. In order for this to happen, all records at the Deeds Office would have to be digitally represented and this had proven a major obstacle. The unit had put out a tender for the job through the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) and three years down the line SITA had not been successful in finding someone to do this. The unit envisaged the system being in place in five years time, as they were now following the Public Private Partnership (PPP) route in securing the right supplier.

Mr Lefafa said the effect of the function carried out by the Deeds Registry on the economy, was phenomenal. Tax to the amount of R6.2 billion had been collected in the form of transfer duties from April to December 2004 alone. The unit paid for its expenses and did not charge conveyancer fees. It charged reasonable rates for information. Fees charged by conveyancers were not controlled by the unit and were approved by the Law Society. The unit supported land reform by conducting historical searches. The unit advanced security of title in the matter of land tenure by registering transfers, changing the status of the landless to that of land owners. Land reform was assisted by fast tracking deeds through the system where applicable.
It took about three days for a deed to go through, in cases where a land reform project was involved and where this had been brought to the attention of the Deeds Office.

Mr Masithela asked why it had taken so long for the unit to respond to the inability of SITA to come up with a suitable supplier.

Mr Lefafa said in terms of the SITA Act government departments had to approach SITA for their IT solutions. SITA had not delivered to date. SITA had commissioned a forensic report on the matter, which spiralled into a dispute. In the dispute over the business agreement between SITA and the unit, SITA acted as referee, which had resulted in the unit even approaching the Chairperson of SITA. Mr Lefafa commented that this was not an equitable state of affairs and that SITA had become a body that could act with impunity, without fear of being called to account. The unit had therefore decided to go the Public Private Partnership route.

Dr Makgalemele said the branch was in the process of unpicking the SITA Act, as this was not the only instance where SITA had proven to be a hindrance rather than a help. The work of the branch was very technical and it therefore was being forced to work with SITA in many cases. This meant that the unit was often being frustrated in achieving its targets, as a direct result of the inadequacy of SITA. This was an unacceptable state of affairs.

Mr Masithela suggested that this was a matter which would have to be taken up with SITA and which would have to be addressed in a different forum.

Mr A Nel (DA) asked how the amendment of the registration process would be approached, in implementing the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA), as it posed a unique problem.

A member asked when CLARA would be implemented, since it had already been passed last year. What were the obstacles to implementation.

Mr J Bici (UDM) referred to the challenge of ensuring representation and professional ethics and asked if the Department set itself time frames to achieve this. He asked whose responsibility was it to erect fenced in places where boundaries were not correctly delineated.

Ms E Ngaleka (ANC) asked when the decentralisation of the Chief Directorate of Cadastral Surveys would be taking place and whether the Surveyors Act of 1994 was still relevant. She asked why the state did not guarantee title deeds.

Dr Sipho Sibanda, Acting Chief Director of Land and Tenure Reform, said that CLARA had been passed in July 2004, but that the implementation strategy would only be tabled at the end of April this year. Implementation was not possible at this stage because the budget of R90 million requested had been denied. Treasury had made provision for only R12 million this year, R27 million next year and R29 million in 2007. Implementation of the Act was meant to be rolled out on a national basis and with these budgetary limitations that could only be done in a phased manner, something which the Act itself had not envisaged or accommodated. This further meant that enabling provisions to the Act would be required to begin implementation. A pilot project had been planned for KwaZulu-Natal, but could not be proceed until these obstacles had been overcome. Dr Sibanda said that it had been unfortunate that the Department did not have sufficient spokespersons at Treasury to lobby their cause.
Mr Kabagambe said the profession had previously been protected along racial lines and that only 3% of town planners were black. Very few women were in the profession. Previously disadvantaged and still disadvantaged universities had not been accredited for surveying and were still not accredited. This needed to be rectified. It was imperative that a process was in place for instances where planners, without the necessary qualifications, did sub standard work and could not subsequently be traced and called to order. There should be some recourse to the law. At present there was no code of conduct holding surveyors accountable for the work they did. This included a code of ethics and professionalism. As per the minister’s approval a council that was representative had been set up and had completed a draught business plan with specific deliverables regarding accreditation, registration and compliance with SQWA and NQF requirements. Issues around this also included the accreditation of people who had the necessary skills and previous learning to be able to fulfil the requirements of the profession. The council was going to set targets with regard to achieving the right mix of planners for the country.

A member asked whether the department should not provide training to conveyancers, if the problem of documents not being completed properly was such a chronic one and had the problem been brought to the attention of the Law Society. In the implementation of the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA), would the department consider paying for conveyancing costs, in view of the fact that the people involved were from poor communities. He also asked how those who had acquired the necessary training in surveying, but still did not have the necessary accreditation, due to no fault of their own, could be assisted.

Mr A van den Berg said that no amendments were necessary to the Surveyors Act, as it did not prevent the use of GPS and needed only some regulation amendment. He said that boundaries could not move and that disputed boundaries could only be changed through proclamations by the Surveyor’s General. The state did not guarantee title as this would be too costly. Furthermore, the system was so good that it acted as a guarantee. Mr van den Berg said that an office would be opened in Limpopo this year, in the Eastern Cape, Northern Cape in 2007 and North West province in 2008.

Mr J Bici (UDM) asked who was responsible for moving fences in cases where it has been shown that the delineated boundaries were incorrect.

Mr Masithela said the matter would have to be debated at a later stage.

Mr Lefafa said the state did not guarantee title deeds and that only in instances where the Department had been shown to be grossly negligent in registering a title deed, could one claim damages.

Mr F Adams (NNP) asked whether the Department’s system talked to the system of the Department of Environment. He asked this with special reference to the golf estates that were springing up all along the coast. Had the necessary environmental impact assessments been done and did the Department have any influence in this matter. He also noted that he himself had experienced the Department as not being very forthcoming in providing information. He asked for clarity on the exact location of the boundary, in cases where it partly coincided with a river.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) asked whether it was possible for one property to be valued differently by different surveyors. He asked how the Department had marketed its services and made information accessible to the public.

A member asked what was being done to attract people to the profession. Had an analysis been done to assess the type of errors being made by conveyances, in order to address the problem?

Mr T Ramphele (ANC) asked to whether Department could control or influence the rapid urbanisation taking place in the country and did it take any responsibility for the occurrence of unplanned informal settlements. What was the Department doing to redress the lack of surveyors among the previously disadvantaged groups. Did the Department know how many previously disadvantaged individuals would qualify this year and in the coming years and did it have a plan to disseminate information on the work it was doing to the wider public.

Mr Masithela asked whether the Department had a record of the racial classification of property owners in South Africa.

Mr Lefafa said that the Law Society had been made aware of the poor quality of documentation being submitted to the Deeds Office, but that there was very little to be done about the problem. It was largely a matter of inexperience, which could only be improved upon with time. Statistics had been extracted in analysing the extent and nature of the occurrence of incorrect lodgements and it had been found that in Transkei attorneys, who had not received formal training in conveyancing, daily submitted documents which were non-compliant and riddled with conveyance errors by up to 50%. In each registry in-house training had taken place.

The Chairperson asked about delays regarding delivery. He also wanted to know the core issues on this matter. Mr Sam Lefafa (Chief Director: Deeds Registration) answered that the process could not be accelerated now. He could compile a report outlining the mistakes.

Mr Kaba Kabagambe (Chief Director: Spatial Planning and Information) answered questions relating to his field of expertise. On the question of accreditation he said that there is a possibility that the status quo is holding back access to accreditation. He said he saw cases where the accreditation panel constitutes professionals who do not allow new members accreditation. He said that it is a question of governance. Planning should not simply be governed. The issue of entrenched interests should be addressed.

Mr Kabagambe continued by saying that sector guidelines have been developed by the Department of Environmental Affairs. This will give effect to the requirements of the National Environmental Act. The Department of Agriculture plays a central role, because the beneficiaries of land reform often enter agriculture.

On the issue of land reform data Mr Kabagambe said that the exercise in KwaZulu-Natal has been completed and that the data is available. Their intention is to make this data available on the Department website, but that it will also be available at their offices, as not everyone has access to the Internet. He did not see why the data set could not be available to the Committee. They also had done similar exercises in Limpopo and the Eastern Cape and that data would be available on 10 March.

On the question on the possibility of having different valuations of property, Mr Lefafa said that it is possible, but that the disparities should not be glaring. The Chairperson disagreed, saying that he knows of huge differences. However, the matter is still handled by the Restitution Committee, so the Committee should be sensitive regarding the matter.

Mr Lefafa addressed the race issue by saying that they do not find it difficult to include race in their data, even though they have been met with some resistance. He said that it would be introduced, but that it will not be used to discriminate. They have decided to wait for the Act to be amended.

In reply to the Chairperson wanting to know why the inclusion of race in the data would be left so late, Mr Lefafa replied that they have recently appointed a service provider, and that it was a big job.

The Chairperson said it is a brilliant idea, but he wanted know why it will take a year. Mr Lefafa said that the terms of reference are quite broad. The Chairperson said it is fine to raise the matter, because it seems as if everybody is not moving on the same wavelength. He stressed that time is of the essence.

The Chairperson enquired about the ownership of land by foreigners. Mr Lefafa answered that the Minister appointed a task team, which they support. They also met with the Human Sciences Research Council the previous day. He said that they are institutionally incapable of producing data on foreigners. It is very urgent that this should be done. These important issues must be isolated for the amendment bill later this year. Mr Schoeman (ANC) asked if it is possible to use identity numbers to identify foreigners. Mr Lefafa said it is not pragmatic, as they use various devious schemes to hide their identity, through trusts, closed corporations, companies and the like. The Chairperson noted that the department could not be blamed for this inefficiency, as Parliament has not yet drafted the necessary laws.

Mr Derek Clarke (Chief Director: Surveys and Mapping) provided answers to the questions addressed to him. Regarding the measurable objective of the Chief Directorate: Surveys and Mapping, he said it entails the enhancement of planning and monitoring, not monitoring itself. He reminded the Committee that the work done is the means to an end, not an end. They provide the information necessary for planning. Also, the provision of information allows changes to be monitored.

Regarding the accuracy and whether maps are up to date, Mr Clarke said that users must know that maps are reliable, but that it is difficult to have something totally up to date, as it takes time to create a map and changes happen fast. They aim to create maps of a high level of reliability. They would be able to create maps that are more up to date if their resources were not limited.

Addressing the question on skills development, Mr Clarke said that they take in interns. Last year they had seven interns who must do experiential training in order to complete their technikon diplomas. They also have a learnership programme, which involves four people per year. They furthermore have a special bursary scheme, aimed to bring disadvantaged groups in to surveying. The scheme started in 2002 and includes 75 bursaries per annum. The Chairperson asked about the performance of the bursary students. Mr Clarke said that they did not have a university graduate from the bursary scheme. On average, eight to ten people from the scheme get diplomas from technikons per year. Mr Clarke believes that this figure will go up as the amount of people going through the system increase. The Chairperson asked that the problems with transformation and the criteria used at universities be checked. Mr Clarke said that there are only two university programmes for surveyors. This year will be the last year that the University of Cape Town takes in new students, as they are not getting enough students every year to continue the programme.

Considering the question on how they are planning to transform the planning profession, Mr Kabagambe said that they looked at the entry requirements into academic institutions. They found that a higher-grade pass in maths is a requirement, and Mr Kabagambe does not believe that this has to be so. This does not mean that they are dropping standards, but they must redefine the requirements of planners.

Mr Kabagambe answered the question on the role of spatial planning in the currant rapid growth of urbanisation by stating that they are dealing with a difficult environment. He said the rate at which claims are processed must be quicker. He also said that each plan must have a vacant land analysis. When land needs to be developed, state owned land and cheap land is often looked at, which often leads to people being functionally displaced. They need to look at how land is strategically located. He also said that it is a political issue in some cases.

Answering the question on how his department links with local and provincial government, Mr Kabagambe said that they are not adequately equipped to do so. There are many national plans. He said that there should be a plan at each sphere of government, which is co-ordinated and within a framework. Institutionally, they are opening small offices in each province to handle data sets. He said that there is an enormous amount f data in South Africa, which is not adequately employed.

Mr Apie van den Berg (Chief Directorate: Cadastral Surveys) addressed the questions posed to him, by first addressing issue of river boundaries. He said in cases where the title deed does not specify on which bank of the river the boundary is, the middle of the river is the boundary. The middle of the river is defined as the middle line between the two banks of the river. The banks of the river are defined as the line the water reaches in summer floods.

On the sub-division of agricultural land, Mr Van den Berg said he did not know what the Department of Agriculture’s policy is. Mr Van den Berg was not aware of a provincial boundary running through property.

Regarding the marketing of his directorate’s services to farmers, Mr Van den Berg said that their marketing is not good and that it must improve. He also said that it might be one of the reasons why they struggle to attract students.

Land and Tenure Reform branch: Department of Land Affairs
Dr Sipho Sibanda, Acting Chief Director of Land and Tenure Reform, told the Committee that the core business of his branch is the provision of access to and rights in land to previously disadvantaged individuals. They are also responsible for implementing redistribution, tenure reform and state land administration.

Dr Sibanda explained that branch has two chief directorates: Land Reform Implementation and Management Co-ordination (LRIMC) and Land Reform Systems and Support Services (LRSSS). The Chief Directorate: Land Reform Implementation and Management Co-ordination manages the implementation of land at provincial level through nine Provincial Land Reform offices and District Level Delivery offices. They manage and co-ordinate land reform implementation programmes, as well as budget planning and expenditure. The also provide information on and implementation support to all land reform projects. The Chief Directorate: Land Reform Systems and Support Services are responsible for public land support services, tenure reform implementation systems, redistribution implementation systems.

Dr Sibanda proceeded to discuss the strategic context of land reform. He said land reform makes a contribution to economic development and poverty eradication. It also entails a substantial increase in black ownership of commercial agriculture. They follow an integrated approach to the implementation of land reform through close collaboration with other departments and spheres of government. This entails building the capacity of provincial governments and district councils. Land reform is implemented within a national spatial planning framework. He said land reform is a national priority and the number one priority in the Department of Land Affairs.

Dr Sibanda said that there are three pillars of land delivery within the government policy context. These are agrarian reform, housing and tenure security. He said land reform is important because it addresses the injustices and dispossession of the past, it fosters reconciliation and stability and it underpins economic growth. Thus, land reform is about legal social and economic tenure security. There are three land reform programmes: tenure, redistribution and state land management and administration.

Land Tenure Programme
Tenure reform deals with land rights where people are living now. It focuses on making de facto rights legal, and giving new rights to those who need protection, balancing this with the rights of the existing owners.

There are four pieces of land tenure legislation. These are the Extension of Security of Tenure Act (ESTA), the Land Reform (Labour Tenants) Act (LTA), the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act and the Communal Land Rights Act CLRA). The president has signed the CLRA, and the Department of Land Affairs is finalising the implementation of the act, and the are waiting for a proclamation that will announce the effective date of the Act.

This legislation aims to provide vulnerable people with a basic level of tenure security, protection against arbitrary evictions and confirm the rights people have on ground that are not recognised in law. It also aims to build a unitary system of land rights for all South Africans, as well as recognising that people who are not owners of land also have land rights.

Redistribution Programme
This programme is based on a demand-driven approach through market assisted land reform. It involves grants to beneficiaries to acquire land through the ‘willing-buyer, willing seller’ principle. This means that land is to be bought at market related prices. The purpose of redistribution is the provision of land to the poor for settlement and agricultural production, thereby improving their livelihoods.
The Provision of Land and Assistance Act 126 of 1993 allows the minister to designate land for residential and productive purposes. It also provides for the rendering of financial assistance for the acquisition of land. The Act also allows the Minister to expropriate land for purposes of redistribution.

Dr Sibanda described the redistribution programme’s shift to agrarian reform. In 1999 the programme was revamped to the LRAD (Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development). The goal of this shift was to contribute more to agricultural development. Grants are disbursed on a sliding scale from R20 000 to R100 000 depending on the applicant’s own contribution in kind, labour and/or cash.

State Land Management
This programme involves the compilation, maintenance and dissemination of state and public land related information. It also involves the maintenance of state land. Dr Sibanda provided figures describing the extent of state land, showing that 19,8% of South Africa’s surface is state land.

Land Delivery
Dr Sibanda said that the government has set itself the target to deliver 30% of commercial farmland by 2015. This means that 24 million ha of farmland must be delivered by 2015. This means that 20,6 million ha must still be delivered before 2015. On average, 1.87 million hectares must be delivered every year to meet the target.

Dr Sibanda said that the total size of land delivered since 1994 is about 3,4 million ha. This figure includes land delivered through restitution, redistribution and state land. The total number of households or individuals that have benefited from land reform is over 995 145.

Dr Sibanda said that the challenge within his branch is threefold. First they must ensure the delivery of the target by 2015. Secondly, they must transfer land to its rightful owners. The CLRA is the vehicle for this, but they need an adequate budget. Their third challenge is the consolidation of the legislation.

Mr Greyling (ID) expressed his concern about the hold-up in the implementation of CLRA. He said it slows down development and he mentioned disputes in the Eastern Cape as an example. Dr Sibanda replied that CLRA is an attempt to clarify the matter, but they cannot implement it yet.

It was stated that the targets look impossible, and the member asked if there are imperatives other than finances. He also wanted to know if it is not time to look at other alternatives rather than the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ principle. Ms Van der Merwe (Land and Tenure Reform Branch of the Department of Land Affairs) said they face severe budgetary and capacity constraints. They were market-bound by the constitution as the Minister had reiterated. Dr Sibanda said there are other provisions that could be used, such as the issue of land sales, imposing land taxes and expropriation, as allowed in Section 25 of the Constitution, but the expense of land is a constraint.

It was also asked what rights people who have lived on a farm their whole lives had, when the farms change hands and the new owner wants to evict them. The member also wanted to know how their rights are brought home.

Ms Yates (Land and Tenure Reform Branch of the Department of Land Affairs) said the rights people enjoy under one owner are also enjoyed under the new owner. They try to inform occupiers of their rights and ensure that they have legal representation. Dr Sibanda said that there is a problem of magistrates and prosecutors colluding with farmers. The Chairperson wanted to know what they have done about it. Dr Sibanda said they can not do much, and that in some cases the state is paying the legal costs of the perpetrators. Ms Yates said that the major problem is that communities are tight-knit This results in protection of the farmers by the police, prosecutors and magistrates. The judicial system needs to transform for this matter to be resolved. The Chairperson said that one could not blame farmers and farm-dwellers if there are loopholes in the legislation. He said they must stop dragging feet, as it is causing racial tension. He also said that the racist farmers must be identified.

The Committee wanted to know if they have plans to continue distributing land after 2015 to ensure an equitable distribution of land. Ms Van der Merwe said that they are not thinking beyond 2015 yet. She said the 30% should only be the beginning. It is what they thought they could handle.

Dr Schoeman said that one must not be over ambitious, as there is no way of meeting the target with the present budget. He asked when there will be meeting with the Treasury and how they will handle it when they are once again disappointed. He said it is a massive problem. Dr Sibanda said that he is also disappointed with the Treasury. He said the Department does not have champions there. He said if they do not get the money for CLRA they will be found wanting. He appealed to the Committee for help.

Mr Radebe (ANC) asked why expropriation is not used, as land in the market is not accessible to the people, as land prices are inflated. He said the government has a responsibility, and asked why the matter is not pursued. He also asked if limitations could be placed on the size of land owned. Ms Van der Merwe said that the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs is allowed to expropriate land, but the constitution must be considered. She suggested that a few cases must be tested to set precedents. She also said compensation will probably be at market value.

Dr Schoeman wanted to know what happens in the period that lapses between a claim to the land and the transfer of the land. He also asked about the problems owners have in receiving their compensation. Dr Sibanda said he is not qualified to answer these questions.

Mr Ramphele (ANC) said that ESTA and LTA are not intended to secure tenure for farmworkers and it will never protect the rights of farmdwellers. He asked that farmdwellers be seen as citizens with rights. He said ESTA and LTA were created with a frame of mind that farmworkers are labour units, and future legislation should take this into account. He asked for a change in frame of mind. The Chairperson said the this Parliament passed the laws Mr Ramphele referred to, and that they did not want to legislate human behaviour. If there are loopholes, they were not to be debated by the Committee.

Mr Ramphele also wanted to know how the department works with other departments and tiers of government. He asked if land reform constitutes real programmes, or whether it is just numbers. Mr Ramphele also enquired about the capacity of the officials of the department. Dr Sibanda said that the Department of Land Affairs works with other departments. He used the Department of Housing as an example. Ms Van der Merwe said the redistribution programme, LRAD, is an integrative programme, which means that they are working in co-operatively with the Department of Agriculture. Regarding capacity, Dr Sibanda said that they look at on two levels. On the one hand there are skill and knowledge of their employees. They are working hard to educate their employees in this regard. The other level, where they are found wanting, is the massive amount of staff needed to fulfil their functions.

Mr Ramphele said he cannot think of reaching the 30% target without a plan. He said they need a plan, not numbers. As an example he said that Zimbabwe had a plan regarding land reform. Dr Schoeman said that they must be realistic; the department must function within a legalistic framework. He said the land reform policy has been determined at a far higher level that the Committee, and that the currant policy is of the ‘willing buyer, willing seller’ method. He said the Committee is going out of bounds when discussing other alternatives, such as Zimbabwe. He said they should not be going outside of government policy. The Chairperson said that Mr Ramphele only meant that they must get a plan, not that this plan should be similar to the plan Zimbabwe employed. Taking not of the press, the Chairperson said that the government is on record to say that the approach Zimbabwe took will not be the approach South Africa will take. Ms Van der Merwe conceded that they maybe have to go back and look at their plans.

Mr Dlali (ANC) asked if one can use a LRAD grant to buy cattle and sheep instead of a farm. He also asked for a specific example of the grant scheme. Ms Van der Merwe said that one can only buy land with the grant, unless there is a balance, which can be spent on cattle and sheep. She also said that the low end of the grant scheme entails an own contribution of R5 000 to qualify for a grant of R20 000, and the high end entails an own contribution of R400 000 to qualify for a grant of R100 000.

Mr Ngema (IFP) expressed concern over the pace of redistribution. He said they are left with ten years, but they have only redistributed 3%. He said the Committee is not there to listen to pleas, but are there to listen to success. He asked if the budget is the only hurdle. Ms Van der Merwe said that it is too soon to say if LRAD is making an economic impact, but she believes that the picture is not bleak. She said that between 1994-1999, only one percent has been delivered, but since 2001 2% has been delivered, so the process is picking up speed. She said the LRAD budget has been spent up to the last cent.

Dr Sibanda said that an audit of their budget and other constraints would be part of their homework for their next meeting with the Committee.

The meeting was adjourned.


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