SA, US to discuss land reform

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) will today meet with the US Embassy to address the tweet from United States President Donald Trump on land expropriation and crime in South Africa. 

DIRCO Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said the US President’s comment was "unfortunate" and it was "regrettable" that the tweet was based on false information. It was on this basis that the Minister had instructed the department to meet with the US Embassy in Pretoria to seek clarification on the matter. 

“Minister Sisulu will also communicate with [US] Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on the matter through diplomatic channels,” department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said in a statement. 

South Africa, Minister Sisulu said, has good political, economic and trade relations with the United States of America and that diplomatic channels remain open to provide clarity on issues of mutual interest. 

Her stance was reiterated by Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane during a post-Cabinet media briefing on Thursday. She announced that President Cyril Ramaphosa had appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee to coordinate and implement measures to accelerate the redistribution of land, extension of security of tenure, provision of agricultural support and the redress of spatial inequality, within a broad and comprehensive land redistribution and agricultural development programme. 

Deputy President David Mabuza will chair the Inter-Ministerial Committee. 

“We view the issues on land as very important matters related to the future of this country for economic growth, transformation, reconciliation and for the restoration of the dignity of all South Africans,” Mokonyane said. 

She said no nation would want the status quo to remain if it were to improve social imbalances amongst its people. 

“As articulated by President [Cyril Ramaphosa] yesterday during the [Parliamentary Question and Answer session], the pace [with which were are moving to make] sure that we deal with issues of land do require a change of gear. 

“It is on this basis that we do not believe that the agreements and treaties that we are involved in, such as AGOA [African Growth and Opportunity Act], are under threat.” 

The Minister said instruments such as AGOA were an opportunity to boost small-scale and black farmers, who have challenges with access to markets and finance. 

Concerted efforts would continue to be made to provide support to farmers so that they can continue to play their role in growing the agriculture sector and maintaining food security, the Minister said. 

Public consultation on land reform 

Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee has recently concluded hearings in all provinces into the possible review of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. 

“Cabinet thanks South Africans who participated in the parliamentary public hearings into the possible review of Section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996 to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.

“Parliament’s Constitutional Review Committee has concluded hearings in all provinces. The deliberations on these hearings as well as written inputs will now be considered by Parliament.  

“Discussions on the issue of land ownership in South Africa are vital and working together, we can ensure that land reform can further assist in growing our economy, particularly in the agricultural sector and address the land ownership inequalities in our country,” said Mokonyane.

DIRCO, BrandSA and the Departments of Trade and Industry and Agriculture would, as mandated, communicate to the world, government’s position on land reform. 

“It is on that basis that the President has set-up an Inter-Ministerial Committee. Brand SA has been doing a lot of work in Australia and the UK, and we are sending information to our different missions. 

“We are in discussion with the Minister of International Relations to make sure that there is constant briefing not only to our foreign missions but to Ambassadors in the country representing their own countries, so that they have a better understanding and an appreciation that we have a responsible government with good intentions for the prosperity of South Africa,” said Mokonyane. 

The South African government has reiterated its commitment to a fair and sustainable land restitution and redistribution process. 

The South African government has repeatedly stated that nobody has a right to invade land or to violate other people’s rights and that it will at all times uphold the law and ensure that the rights of all South Africans are protected. –