Department Strategic Plan 2006/07: briefing

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Meeting report

AGRICULTURE AND LAND AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
15 March 2005
DEPARTMENT STRATEGIC PLAN 2006/07: BRIEFING

Chairperson:

Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Department’s Strategic Plan for 2006/07: Part

1 & 2
Department’s presentation: Part
1 & 2

SUMMARY


 

The Department of Land Affairs briefed the Committee on their strategic plan for 2006/07.
Amongst others, the Department’s core objectives were the redistribution of 30% of white-owned agricultural land by 2014 for sustainable agricultural development, the provision of tenure security that created socio-economic opportunities for people living and working in communal areas, the settlement of all outstanding land claims by 2008 and the implementation of restitution awards, the provision of land for sustainable human settlement, industrial and economic development as well as the provision of efficient land use and land administration services.

The Committee applauded the objectives, but raised concerns that the target for land redistribution might be "overly ambitious". Other concerns included the very slow process of land reform and redistribution and the eradication of poverty.

Department of Land Affairs presentation
Mr Glen Thomas (Director-General) briefed the Committee on the Department’s strategic plan. He stated that the strategic framework of the Department focused on accelerated creation of a land system that comprehensively addressed the legacy of socio-economic deprivation and the improvement of the quality of life of black people.

The Department’s core objectives were, firstly the redistribution of 30% of white-owned agricultural land by 2014 for sustainable agricultural development. Secondly, the provision of tenure security that created socio-economic opportunities for people living and working in communal areas. Thirdly, the settlement of all outstanding land claims by 2008 and the implementation of restitution awards. Fourthly, the provision of land for sustainable human settlement, industrial and economic development as well as the provision of efficient land use and land administration services. Further objectives mentioned were the provision of efficient state land management that supported development and a skills development framework for land and agrarian reform for all the relevant stakeholders. Development programmes for the empowerment of women, children and people living with disabilities and those with HIV/AIDS and older persons also fell within the Department’s mandate.

In terms of the amount of land involved, Mr Thomas explained that the total available land in South Africa amounted to 122 million hectares. Of this, 100 million hectares were farmland of which 82 million hectares were owned by white farmers. The Department would deliver at least 24.6 million hectares of this agricultural land by the year 2014 to emerging farmers. Thus far, only 3.3 million hectares had been delivered; therefore 21.2 million hectares must still be delivered leaving on average 1.87 million hectares that must be delivered per annum to meet the Department’s target. In order to redistribute 30% of white owned land by the year 2014, the Department should have delivered at the rate of 1.87 million hectares of land per annum from the year 2000. The Department still has to deliver just under 21.2 million hectares to meet this (missed) target. The Department needed to deliver at the rate of 3.1 million hectares per annum for the next three years to be back on track.

The Department had seven budget programmes, namely Programme 1: Administration; Programme 2: Surveys and Mapping; Programme 3: Cadastral Survey Management; Programme 4: Restitution; Programme 5: Land and Tenure Reform; Programme 6: Spatial Planning and Information; Programme 7: Deeds Registration.

In terms of policy development, the Department had created new policies on the willing buyer / willing seller principle, land ownership by foreigners, land acquisition, which includes land tax; land ownership ceilings and expropriation. Policies on sustainable human settlement and policy management of evictions and security of tenure for people living on commercial farms, and on state land administration and management had also been completed. The Department planned to amend the White Paper on Land Reform by 2008/09.

In terms of Programme 2: Surveys and Mapping, the Department had a programme for the acquisition of Earth imagery for the following year to be available by 15 December of each year. In addition, the Department planned on running annual map awareness and literacy workshops. They also planned to provide a map of South Africa for visually impaired persons by 31 March 2009.

In terms of Programme 3: Cadastral Survey Management, the Department had transformed the function to ensure that they had land administration that supported government’s aims and objectives on poverty reduction, accommodated diverse forms of tenure including communal and customary tenure; was pro-poor and decentralised to rural and urban informal settlements and designed laws adaptable to land administration in the Afrocentric context.

In terms of Programme 4: Restitution, the Department planned on having the remaining 8107 land claims validated, gazetted, verified and settled by March 2008. Also, they intended to have a skills development framework in place for the adequate capacitation of restitution beneficiaries by December 2007 as well as a strategy for the secure tenure rights of all people living and working on commercial farms and people living on land restored to restitution claimants by September 2006.

For Programme 5: Land and Tenure Reform; the Department planned on delivering 24.9 million hectares of productive white-owned land to 60 000 individual black South Africans by 2014. Hence, 3.1 million hectares had to be delivered on average per annum for the next three years.

Under Programme 6: Spatial Planning and Information; the Department had set in place interventions to halt undesirable post-1994 settlement growth patterns and land use trends, as well as the identification of suitable land for development and formulation of an evaluation framework for spatial development. The Department further intended providing services and spatial information to development nodes. The Department planned on integrating land reform and restitution projects as well as creating spatial data and analysis for the Agricultural Development corridors.

Under Programme 7: Deeds Registration; the Department had secured registered title deeds for all landowners to ensure participation in the economy, as well as accelerated and secure registered title deeds for land reform and housing beneficiaries. They intended establishing an operational Deeds Registry in all provinces by March 2008 to bring services closer to people.

Discussion
Mrs B Thompson (ANC) commented that the Department was being overly ambitious in the huge amount of land it had set as a redistribution target. Further, the Department needed to investigate the large amounts of land not only owned by foreigners but also by South Africans.

Mr Thomas replied that due to the fact that municipalities used the regressive tax system to tax landowners, most large landowners paid lower taxes.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) asked how much of the 3.3 million hectares of land to be delivered to people was in fact communal land.

Mr Thomas responded that none of the involved land was communal land.

Mr A Nel (DA) asked what the delay was with the implementation process.

Mr Thomas responded that the Communal Land Rights Act (CLARA) had taken seven years to implement due to it being a difficult task. He added that the availability of adequate resources further complicated the implementation process.

Ms Ntuli sought clarity on how the projected target dates of 2008 and 2014 would assist the government in fast-tracking poverty eradication. She commented that this was indeed a long and slow process.

Mr Thomas responded that the Department was compelled by law to consult the public and as a result, consultation and implementation could take a very long time. Dr Sibandla added that the reason for the delays in the restitution process was largely due to conflicting land claims and as a result, the Department was often faced with the intricate task of investigating and determining the real owners. This also took a long time.

Mr D Dlali (ANC) inquired what the turnaround time for a Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) application was.

Mr Thomas responded that the turnaround time was affected by the shortage of staff, the process of landowner negotiations as well as the issue of conveyance procedures.

The meeting was adjourned.

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