Wandile Sihlobo, a leading agricultural economist shared a map showing unused land suitable for agricultural production in Limpopo, KwaZulu Natal and Eastern Cape; that is approximately 1.8 million hectares.
In the Eastern Cape the bulk of the opportunity lies in a single 250 kilometre band which stretches from East London on the coast past Queenstown to the North.
Included in this band of unused land are 88 farms lying fallow, belonging to the Gwatyu community. The unregistered Gwatyu Communal Property Association representing the people of Gwatyu came to Parliament in 2015 around this time, to appeal to the then Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform to register their Community Property Association (CPA) and process their application to take ownership of the land which is registered in the State’s name.
Promises were made for the speedy resolution of their problems. The then-Minister even formed a special Ministerial Task Team headed by the extremely dubious Mr Dumisani Luphungela. Needless to say as usual the ANC government failed to deliver. Bakhala abantu base Gwatyu bezibuza uba senzenina…senzenina? Disillusioned, they turned to the Democratic Alliance – the party for all people of South Africa, for assistance.
Once again the Gwatyu Communal Property Association has come to Parliament in the hope that the new Minister would heed their call for land. Phakamani bani bone bakhaya bam!
How many similar landless communities are there in all the provinces that can be owners of land overnight if only the department did its work? Ntate Rakgatsi in Limpopo has lived on his farm for 40 years. He was given an Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD) grant but when it came to registering the land in his name the ANC government made him sign a 30-year lease instead.
Why is the government reluctant to make people owners of the land?
Instead of transferring ownership of the many hectares of land registered under the state, including the commonages administered by the municipalities, the department is slowly but surely nationalising the land through its PLAAS programme which buys land from willing sellers, registers it under the State and then leases it out to beneficiaries.
Why are people not allowed to have title to the land? Why must people rent the land?
By supporting the EFF’s motion to expropriate land without compensation the ANC government has proven its allegiance. The people will never own the land outright as the EFF’s manifesto promotes the ownership of land by the State. Vuka mntomnyama!
The ANC has again shown with its departmental budget that they don’t care about land reform, spending more on VIPs at R2.9 billion than it does on land reform at R2.7 billion.
We thus argue that it is the ANC government’s inefficiency – and not the Constitution – that has failed to address this injustice. What we need is a change in government, not a change to Section 25 of the Constitution.
It is high time that President Ramaphosa make a firm stand of land reform and finally confirm exactly what his government’s position is. Just yesterday Julius Malema, who seems to be leading the policydiscussion in the ANC, made a declaration that expropriation without compensation includes private land.
The rural people of Gwatyu, the people in the former TBVC states, the people living under the Ingonyama Trust and the thousands living in shacks on the outskirts of cities deserve better.
The DA will turn this sorry state of affairs around by:
- Transferring unutilised State land to the above categories of people immediately including commonages;
- Finalising outstanding and existing claims as a priority by rooting out corruption;
- Simplifying requirements around the sub-division of agricultural land to accommodate smallscale farmers without compromising commercial food production;
- Improving inter-departmental integration and capacity to enhance service delivery; and
- Increasing land reform budget by cutting allocation to areas deemed unnecessary or wasteful.
The DA is committed to total change that delivers one South Africa for all. Enkosi!