Political will is crucial to ensuring land ownership and poverty alleviation

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Budget cuts will limit the department’s ability to implement policy and execute strategies.

The department’s budgetary cut of 4.8% from R1.9 billion to R1.8 billion, reducing the budget by nearly R100 million over the mid-term period, will severely and mostly affect the student skills development programmes such as the National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC), Rural Enterprise and IndustrialDevelopment (REID) and Rural Infrastructure and Development (RID).

Where is this department heading if we cut the budget meant to capacitate and upskill our youth in rural areas? It ultimately means that 1 515 students will not receive the necessary upskilling in agriculture, motor mechanics, water and sanitation and electrical engineering. These are vital skills to acquire in order to escape abject poverty in our rural areas.

This department, which currently has no director-general and vacancies in 7 of the 12 top positions, will not be able to carry out its functions. It will not be able to skill the very people we need to make land reform work. These are beneficiaries and emerging black farmers – previously disadvantaged South Africans.

The ANC government is nowhere near making a tangible difference towards the alleviation of poverty through land reform. This department which is famous for not implementing implementable policy and land reform has dismally failed.

The High Level Panel headed by former president Kgalema Motlanthe has indicated four reasons why land reform is not performing and the panel has indicated that Section 25 of the Constitution is not the impediment to poor delivery.

  1. The ANC lacks the political will to address in the inequalities in land;
  2. They lack of departmental capacity which directly affects verification of claimants, it creates a lack of policy implementation and ultimately means a R 461 million budget for consultancy fees. The shocking truth about poor capacity is that 55% of all consultancy fees are to be spent on consultation of administrative staff. Towering over the mere 27% left for restitution
  3. Massive Corruption by departmental officials regarding land deals and post settlement support;
  4. The prioritization of claims with excessive land deals such as the infamous Mala Mala deal costing taxpayers R 1.1 billion that was deemed both excessive and invalid by the courts and the commission alike.

Had the prioritisation of all claims been handled justly and fairly, the money spent on Mala Mala could have been channelled towards 60 000 and 100 000 other black South Africans, which is a step closer towards ownership and title deeds.

The DA would expedite the verification of claimants through increased budgets so that each provincial commission would be armed with private sector researchers that would consist of professors of local area history and anthropologists that could diligently assist with verification processes.

The DA would ensure that the wasteful and unauthorised expenditure by various departments and the bailouts of SAA and SA Express rather be spent where it should benefit the poorest in land reform and its attempts to alleviate the pressures of landlessness and lack of ownership.

Through disciplined and transparent financial management we will drastically increase the budget for Rural Development and Land Reform simply because we recognise the necessity to transform state apathy towards black emerging farmers using Section 25 of the constitution

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