Land tenure summit all about implementation

Friday, September 5, 2014

By More Matshediso

Johannesburg - Farm workers will be prioritised as beneficiaries of the tenure reform, says Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform (RDLR), Gugile Nkwinti.

Minister Nkwinti was addressing more than 2 000 delegates at the National Land Tenure Summit held in Johannesburg, on Thursday.

Minister Nkwinti said it was morally wrong for a farm worker to work tirelessly at a farm but later die without having anything to show.  

“When we go home on Saturday, we want to say we have moved closer together in terms of the implementation of the resolutions of the governing party, which were adopted in Mangaung in 2012,” said Minister Nkwinti.

Some of the resolutions that the summit aimed to address are improving skills of emerging commercial farmers and farm workers, and ownership of land by ordinary citizens.

He said by implementing the resolutions, all South Africans would have moved closer to the edict of the freedom charter that says South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that the wealth of the country will be shared amongst citizens.

“Land doesn’t grow, the population grows. We must find ways of sharing this land in an equitable manner,” said Minister Nkwinti.

The delegates, who came from across South Africa, were given an opportunity to raise their challenges and look into, and discuss, the land tenure policies put on table by the RDLR department.

“We are saying to South Africans these are the policies that we will be implementing, what is your take on that? What do you want to add?” said Minister Nkwinti.

The delegates comprised representatives from non-governmental organisations, organised agriculture, academia, farm workers, traditional leaders, government, political parties, and leading international researchers on agrarian reform.

He challenged delegates to come up with proposals that had clear implementation strategies.

Delegates are expected to engage on policies regarding land issues until the summit ends on Saturday.

The summit also aimed to address issues of tenure insecurity in commercial farming areas, tenure challenges in communal areas, and how best to resolve South Africa’s land reform 20-years into democracy.

Chief Land Claims Commissioner Nomfundo Qobodo echoed Minister Nkwinti sentiments about the objectives of the summit, which were in line with the 2005 summit.

Qobodo said in 2014, government had decided to take land tenure issues to the people, to give them an opportunity to discuss the draft policy.

“There is a very famous discussion on the 50/50 policy, which talks about relative rights of farm workers on owning part of the farm land.

“This is really the foundation of the work that needs to be done. This is just not the beginning of the work, but additional policies that are being discussed by affected people,” said Qobodo.

She said the department has to interpret the resolutions so that they become implementable.

“It is important that the policies that are drafted are implementable,” she added.  

Prince Nkomozethu Dlamini of Moyeni Tribal Authority in Piet Retief drove from Mpumalanga to represent his Kingdom at the summit.

Dlamini hoped that, at the end of the summit, government would take action in giving land to his people.

Dlamini told SAnews that there were many farms under his Kingdom, but only few of them were owned by black South Africans. He said many people in his Kingdom were ready to become farmers and own land.

“My people want to own farms, they do not want to be farm workers anymore, they want ownership,” said Dlamini.

Dlamini said although there was a challenge of managing land and farms amongst black emerging farmers, some of them had acquired skills to sustain their farms.

“In my Chiefdom, I have trained some people… but we don’t have enough land. We wish we could get our land back, so that we can become independent and receive the necessary support from government,” Dlamini said.

Sifizo Mayeza, 38, from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal, is one of the 20 members who owns 190 hectors land, which was bought for them in 2009 by the department.

Mayeza, the Secretary for Zamula Communal Property Association (CPA), said the main challenge that faced his CPA was skills training and funds.

“We have owned a farm for three years now, but there is no production. I cannot blame anyone on that because I feel that we, as members, can do something while we continue to apply for funds,” said Mayeza, whose land was meant for grazing.

He added that all members of his CPA were still interested in farming but could not access funds from the department, due to its budget.

“We are not getting enough support at the moment. Every time we approach the department we are told about the budget… even after two years, there is still not enough money,” Mayeza said.

Mayeza said if his CPA could be funded, they would make means to kick start production and sustain the farm, as some of his members attended private training on farming.

“Even though we could get funds at a later stage, we have got women who attended training on how to run chicken farming. We need infrastructure and we don’t have it,” said Mayeza.   

Some of the issues the summit will tackle include tenure insecurity in commercial farming areas, tenure challenges in communal areas, and how best to resolve South Africa’s land reform 20-years into democracy. -

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