Speech by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, G Nkwinti,
MP debate on Budget Vote 27, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa
17 June 2009
Mr Speaker, as we prepare the way forward in implementing the objectives of our
new Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, we must take stock of
what has been done by the Department of Land Affairs and based on that, clearly
articulate the way forward. The key mandate of the Department of Land Affairs was
primarily to create and maintain an equitable and sustainable land dispensation,
through the land redistribution, tenure reform and restitution programmes.
As reflected in the 2008 to 2011 strategic plan, the department revised the national
land redistribution target to 608 060 hectares in order to align it with the actual
budget allocation. Of that revised target, thus far the Department has delivered a
total of 443 600 hectares, consisting of 501 projects and benefiting 14 457 persons
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights settled a total of 653 claims, inclusive
of the 108 claims that were dismissed. This resulted in approximately 394 000
hectares of land being approved for restoration, affecting approximately 30 000
households. Cumulatively, the approved hectares of land for restitution purposes
since 1995, is 2.47 million hectares, representing a 10 percent contribution to the
overall target of redistributing 30 percent of white owned agricultural land to black
farmers by the year 2014.
In terms of forestry claims, great progress has been made with regard to the
implementation of the memoranda of agreements signed with Mondi, as well as the
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry on the settlement of these claims and
much of the deliverables in that regard will be reported on in the forthcoming
financial year. The commission is left with approximately 4 296 complex rural claims
to settle, with four of the regional offices intending to finalise their claims by the end
of the 2009/10 financial year. These are the Gauteng office, which is left with only
three outstanding claims, the Free State office with 22 claims, the Northern Cape
office with 164 claims and the Western Cape office with 573 claims. The commission
will also focus on finalising 1695 of the remaining rural claims.
While the department developed a post-settlement strategy to effectively support
communities after they took transfer of land, this strategy could, however, not be
fully implemented due to capacity constraints.
Mr Speaker, 19 June marks the 96th anniversary of the infamous 1913 Land Act, and
as part of the process of remedying the wrongs created by this notoriously
legislation, we celebrate the return of peoples to their ancestral land, through the
restitution process. On Friday 19 June 2009, we will be in Riemvasmaak, restoring
46 000 hectares of land to the community. We will, together with the community
celebrate the return of their ancestral land. The community will, once again, be the
custodians of land that belonged to their ancestors.
Mr Speaker, the department has recognised that in order to move forward decisively
with the land redistribution programme, significant changes will have to be made to
the willing-buyer, willing-seller model of land redistribution. The department will
have to investigate less costly alternative methods of land acquisition, by engaging
with all stakeholders within the sector. We have heard the landless people; they say
that the willing-buyer, willing seller model does not work. We have heard the African
National Congress (ANC’s) 52nd National conference of 2007. They have said that
the model does not work.
The time is ripe for us to hear the voices of the landed folk of our beloved country.
We will be seeking a much more pragmatic formula to land redistribution; one which
should address the issue as part of our country’s ongoing effort at national
reconciliation. It should not be seen as a super-profit-making business venture. Such
an approach would lead our country to a dead end in the long term. Our strongly
held view is that land access and ownership should, first of all, satisfy land needs of
South Africans. This objective shall, preferably, be pursued without the need to
amend the Constitution.
Securing peoples’ tenure is the foundation of rural development and it is imperative
that the department reviews policy and legislation which relate to tenure on
commercial farms as well as in communal areas. As a short to medium term
measure, we will continue to provide legal assistance to the 2.8 million people living
without secure tenure on commercial farms in South Africa. Two most recent
Grahamstown High Court judgements in favour of victims of farm evictions in the
Cradock and Seven fountains are encouraging in this regard.
Side-by-side this aggressive legal protection of the rights of farm tenants and
workers on white commercial farms, the former homeland areas will become
essential focus of the government Comprehensive Rural Development Programme
(CRDP) for the next five years. The strategy for the implementation of the CRDP and
land reform is agrarian transformation meaning a sustained rapid and fundamental
change in the relations of land, livestock, cropping and communities for sustainable
growth and development. Relying heavily on the Freedom Charter, the 8 January
2005 statement of the ANC had the following to say in this regard, the democratic
state must take the lead in the transformation of our economy away from the fetters
of the past, which constrain growth and development. Among the mechanisms that
the developmental state deploys to restore the national wealth of our country to the
* Sustained and substantial investment in economic and social infrastructure, built
with methods with a bias towards labour intensive technologies
* Increasing the access of the masses of the people to physical resources,
particularly land, housing and community infrastructure
* Poverty reduction and eradication through job creation, skills development and
budget interventions to increase the social wage, bearing in mind our limited means
* Affirmative action, broad based black economic empowerment and other
interventions designed to fast-track the inclusion of the previously marginalised in
the mainstream economy and simultaneously transform the structure of the
* Ensuring the growth and development of our economy to provide the means to
achieve the broad goals indicated by the Freedom Charter.
Of course, this is what we have to do. As His Excellency, the President of the
Republic, enjoined us during his State of the Nation Address, we are committed to
speedily returning the Land Use Management Bill to the house, after undertaking the
necessary consultations. Without this bill we may not achieve our goal of dealing
with the disintegrated apartheid settlement patterns and the inefficiency with which
land use decisions are considered. The Land Use Management Bill will also enable us
to improve the capacity of our municipalities, especially the rural ones in land use
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
Mr Speaker, following the re-organisation of the new administration, we have now a
new department, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The
budget vote which I am presenting today is informed by what we consider to be an
interim strategic plan. Our five year strategic plan for this new term of office (2009
to 2014) will be influenced by a new strategy, based on the new mandate for the
government and its key objective and strategic goals.
Mr Speaker, the strategy of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform,
in executing its rural development and land reform mandate, is agrarian
transformation. Its key objective is the achievement of vibrant and sustainable rural
communities. The overall outcome has got to be social cohesion and development
(meaning shared growth and development, full employment, equity and cultural
progress). The following strategic goals or enablers and at once, short to medium
term milestones or midpoint accomplishments will be pursued in the quest for
vibrant and sustainable rural communities:
* The establishment of business initiatives, agro-industries, cooperatives, cultural
initiatives and vibrant local markets in rural settings
* The empowerment of rural people and communities, especially women and the
youth, through facilitating and mediating strong organisational and institutional
capabilities and abilities to take full charge of their collective destiny
* Training rural people in technical skills, combining them with indigenous know-how
and knowledge, to mitigate community vulnerability to, especially, climate change,
soil erosion, drought, snow, animal diseases, flooding, tornadoes, other natural
disasters and emergencies and hunger and food insecurity
* Revitalisation and revamping of old, and the creation of new, economic, social and
information communication infrastructure and public amenities and facilities in
villages and small rural towns.
Our land planning and information branch has the capability to perform crucial land
administration tasks, such as mapping, surveying, demarcation, registration of rights
on land and overall land use management regulation. All these activities are required
to, among other reasons, guarantee ownership and security of tenure, support land
and property taxation, provide security for audit (land and mortgage), develop and
monitor land markets, protect state land, reduce (or obviate) disputes, facilitate land
reform, improve urban planning and infrastructure development, support
environmental management and produce statistical data. This capability will be at
the cutting edge in our pursuit of the milestones listed above.
A brief overview of our work plan
We have developed the broad concept of what the new department will look like.
This is work in progress, but we have a clear idea about its core thrust, thanks to the
resolution of the ANC’s 52nd national conference on rural development, agrarian
change and land reform. An important element of this resolution is the establishment
of a rural development agency. Our work has, thus, been cut out for us. Secondly,
we have to speed up settlement of processed claims and expedite the processing of
This much has been made well understood by the National Land Claims
Commissioner and the Director-General. In addition to the point made above, we
have agreed that we need to improve the manner in which we work as the
department. We have agreed that in both Land Restitution and Land Redistribution,
we must sort out unnecessary institutional constraints in the short-term, while
dealing with external challenges.
With respect to the comprehensive rural development programme (CRDP), we have
adopted a three-phased approach: the short-term, medium-term and long-term.
Short-term (Phase 1)
We need to focus, though not exclusively, to breaking the back of hunger. We need
to energise our people so that they are able to be full participants in all efforts at
pulling them out of poverty. It is during this phase that empowerment and training of
people will be intensified. The battle cry for this programme is Siyazondla!
Vukuzenzele! Hi ti Hluvukisa! Phezu komkhono! etc.! This is a homestead and
communal land production programme; what could be referred to as a mediated
form of subsistence production. The catalytic tool for this programme is social,
technical and institutional facilitation. A framework model for employment creation
and skills training and development in this regard is being developed. This phase is
being piloted in Muyexe Village (to be extended to two more villages very soon) in
the Greater Giyani Municipality, Limpopo. It is going to be replicated in seven other
Provinces in the next few weeks.
Medium-term (Phase 2)
The focus here is enterprise development and food security. This programme, which
is a joint effort by Rural Development and Land Reform and Agriculture, Forestry and
Fisheries, will be riding on the back of fencing. Its complexity and enterprise lies in
the fact that it must encompass the total value add in both cropping and livestock
farming. The catalytic tool for this phase is economic, social, information and
communication and public amenities and facilities infrastructure development. All the
nine Provinces should commence with this Phase very soon.
Long-term (Phase 3)
In the long-term (not the Keynesian one!) the programme will focus on small, micro
and medium enterprises and industries, cultural tourism, co-operatives and vibrant
village markets and so on. The catalyst for this phase, though not exclusively, is the
rural development agency, riding on the back of Phase Two. The small rural towns
will feature prominently during this phase.
Building strategic capacity in the department
But, Mr Speaker, we cannot do all this work alone! As we are all very well aware,
rural development is a transversal function. We are, also, very well aware, Mr
Speaker, that for the government to achieve its key objective of vibrant and
sustainable rural communities and the long-term outcome of social cohesion and
development, rural communities have to be both the object and subject of all
processes affecting them. This is the fundamental assumption underlying the ANC’s
people orientated and people centred development perspective.
In this regard, the role of the following stakeholders cannot be over-emphasised:
rural communities themselves, other government departments in both the national
and provincial spheres, both tiers of municipal government, farmers (organized and
un-organised), traditional institutions, women and youth formations, people with
disabilities, farm tenants and workers, labour unions operating on commercial farms,
developmental non-governmental organisations (the so-called Dengos – Bill Davies
(1980s), Institute of Economic and Social Research, Rhodes University), the private
sector and state-owned development entities.
Co-ordinating and putting these institutions and entities to effective use is a
mammoth task. The department will need to urgently establish two sets of
capabilities a rural development agency and social, technical and institutional
facilitation branch. This urgent task forms part of our organisational structure plans.
Once more, extensive consultation will take place with regard to the establishment of
the said rural development agency. As will have been noted above, the Department
of Land Affairs put in place a post land settlement strategy, but could not implement
it due to a lack of capacity. Many farms which government had purchased, as part of
its land reform programme, have been repossessed, auctioned and repurchased, in
most cases, by the same white farmers whom the farms had been purchased.
In short, Mr Speaker, the department lacked strategic capacity to protect and defend
productive assets acquired by the state to empower historically disadvantaged South
Africans! This agency will, amongst other responsibilities, provide this sorely needed
strategic capacity to; follow the Rand; warehouse farms from the Land Bank; make
strategic land reform interventions; align with or enter into strategic institutional
partnerships in pursuit of our rural development and land reform mandate. Further
detail will emerge during the said consultations.
Rural development as a catalyst, the Greater Giyani Municipal Pilot
Mr Speaker, as I stated during the debate on the State of the Nation Address, the
Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has identified the villages of
Muyexe, Dingamanzi and Gon’on’o, in the Greater Giyani Municipality, Limpopo
Province, as the pilot site for the comprehensive rural development programme. In
his State of the Nation Address, and in his reply to the debate on it, the President
endorsed this initiative, making it a whole government project. As a Department we
are very excited with that development.
The Portfolio Committees on Rural Development and Land Reform and on
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries raised a big question during our interaction last
week, we have been observing, over many years, those government departments
and entities have not been able to work in an integrated manner. How are you going
to make it happen now? They cited, as one example, the failure of both national and
provincial departments to participate in municipal integrated development planning.
Mr Speaker, this is a big question. I cannot pretend to have an answer to it. But I
know, and we all know, that the President has pronounced that Giyani is the
government’s site for piloting the implementation of its comprehensive rural
development programme. We also know that the government works in clusters. All
that should strengthen our resolve to work together in an integrated manner. As
such, Mr Speaker, Giyani is also a pilot for working together.
Finally, our department, working closely with Premiers’ offices, sister departments,
particularly Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Co-operative Governance and
Traditional Affairs, Water and Environmental Affairs, Economic Development, The
planning Commission in the Presidency, and Public Works, will act as an initiator, a
facilitator, a co-ordinator and a catalyst in this complex relationship. This selection of
certain departments does not detract from the fact that our department has to work
with practically every other department.
Nothing romantic about underdevelopment and social fragmentation
Mr Speaker, there is nothing romantic about poverty, inequality, unemployment,
cultural backwardness and social fragmentation; and, we dare not romanticise these
socio-economic ills either; for they are real and they are very bad, as reflected in
rural communities and peri-urban areas across our country! We have to deal with
them in a decisive manner.
This much has been stated and emphasised by the President in his State of the
Nation Address, his reply to its debate in this house and in numerous media
interviews, before and since his Address. We want to restate what we said during the
debate on the State of the Nation Address, that the road to rural development and
emancipation will be a long and winding one, but it is one which, together as a
nation, we must undertake, if we are to attain our historic mission of bringing about
a better life for all our people, irrespective of where they reside in our land.
It is only through this national partnership, as the President enjoined us South
Africans, in his State of the Nation Address, on 3 June 2009 that we have the
possibility of making the hopes and aspirations of our people a reality. But, one
fundamental requirement and bottom line for a successful and lasting rural
development project is that rural communities have got to be assisted and
encouraged, in a sustained manner, to organise themselves into discipline productive
formations, through which they can express themselves in themselves and for
themselves, in the spirit of vukuzenzele! hi ti hluvikisa! siyazondla! or phezu
I thank you
Issued by: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
17 June 2009