13 February 2013

South Africa: President Zuma Must Clarify Whether State-Owned Land Audit Has Been Completed

press release

Yesterday, Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinte, stated that government had completed an audit of state-owned land. His exact words were: "The state land has been audited."

However, during a meeting of the parliamentary portfolio committee on rural development and land reform yesterday, I requested from the Public Service Commission that a report be made available on the department's progress with the audit of state land. Both the deputy minister and director-general (DG) of the department were present at the meeting, and neither of them gave any indication that the audit had been completed.

This year marks the centenary of the Land Act of 1913, which resulted in the widespread and systematic economic dispossession of black South Africans. One of the consequences of this Act was that millions of hectares of state-owned land were set aside in trust for the former homelands. Yet, 20 years after the dawn of democracy, the ownership of the land has still not been transferred to those who live on it.

This alone would stimulate economic growth and entrepreneurship and create job opportunities, not to mention improved agricultural productivity and food security. The reason this has not yet happened is that an audit of the land needs to be completed first - yet government have time and again delayed or missed their own deadlines for the completion of the audit.

The mixed messages from the Minister and his deputy and DG are extremely concerning. If the audit has indeed been completed, it should be released without delay.

The DA therefore calls on President Zuma to provide clarity on the progress of the audit in his State of the Nation address tomorrow. The President needs to state whether the audit has been completed and when it will be released. If it has not been completed, he must commit to a deadline for its completion, and ensure that, this time, the deadline is adhered to.

Athol Trollip, Shadow Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform

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