15 February 2017

South Africa: Government to Conduct Pre-Colonial Land Audit

Photo: Rachel Mabala /Daily Monitor
(file photo).

Cape Town — Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says government will conduct a colonial land audit to transform the historic patterns of ownership, use and occupation.

The Minister said this when he participated in day one of the debate on the State of the Nation Address at the National Assembly on Tuesday.

He said this after President Jacob Zuma said during his State of the Nation Address that government would use several levers of the state to implement radical economic transformation.

"Once the audit has been completed, a single law should be developed to address the issue of land restitution without compensation.

"The necessary constitutional amendments should be undertaken to effect this process," he said.

The Minister said for radical economic transformation to be ushered in, government should tackle and transform a number of elements - structure, systems, ownership, control and institutions.

He said this would help government change the historical nature of ownership and control of the economy, which is characteristic of colonial and apartheid South Africa.

Calls to establish Land Claims Commission as a Chapter 9 institution

The Minister said, meanwhile, that one of the most serious challenges facing the implementation of the land reform programme relates to incoherent institutional transformation.

He said the assumption that land reform falls exclusively within the mandate of his department was an "over-simplification of a complex matter".

Ownership of land parcels registered in the name of trusts, for example, can only be determined by accessing records of the Office of the Master of the Supreme Court, which falls under the Justice Department.

Those registered under companies and other legal entities require the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CPIC) for ownership to be determined, which is under the Department of Trade and Industry.

He said there were other factors that fell under different departments. Another example is that land reform farmers find themselves having to fight for water rights through the Department of Water and Sanitation as water rights are usually attached to farm owners, not the farm.

"The above points speak to the need for a coherent institutional transformation, rather than one that is perceived of as a single-departmental program.

"Land reform is not just about taking land from one racial group and giving it to another. It is, even more importantly, a qualitative function," he said.

The Minister also said to further promote radical socio-economic transformation, the department is vigorously driving the Strengthening of Relative Rights of People Working the Land (50/50) Programme and the One Household one Hectare Programme.

Transformation agenda

In his State of the Nation Address, President Zuma said government will utilize the strategic levers that are available at its disposal to radically transform the economy.

This includes legislation, regulations, licensing, budget and procurement as well as Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Charters to drive transformation.

During the debate, Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, said the state will play a major role in the economy to drive the transformation agenda.

"We have put systems in place to ensure that the policies and strategies that we introduce are adhered to and implemented as a matter of urgency.

"We have strengthened our monitoring and evaluation mechanisms to ensure that our interventions yield positive results and are evidence-based," he said.

He said government would accelerate its efforts in the economy to enhance faster and inclusive growth.

Government has established Operation Phakisa as a big fast result-oriented programme that takes a collective approach to economic development, the Minister said.

"Through this programme, we have developed very specific interventions in the Oceans Economy, Health, Education, Mining and Agriculture sectors. These interventions have been designed as a collaborative effort with business, labour, community and other civil society groups to fast track the implementation of programmes that will improve delivery, create jobs and increase investment."

Dignity and decorum

The Minister also used the debate to call for the dignity and the decorum of the house to be restored.

He said the "mayhem" that ensued at the house was "regrettable".

"Parliament is an institution established with the core values of accountability, teamwork, professionalism and integrity among others, and we must always uphold these noble values."

Radical economic transformation should benefit women

Meanwhile, the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Women, Susan Shabangu, said government remains committed to advancing and protecting the interests of women in all spheres of life.

She said there were success stories of women empowerment in the public services, but more needed to be done to promote equality in the private sector.

The Minister said women were often on the wrong end of the stick when it comes to being paid a lower salary while doing the same work done by their male counterparts.

She also said women were also faced with the challenge of access to finance from Developmental Finance Institutions.

"In our radical economic transformation, all South Africans have a responsibility to ensure that women benefit from the shake-up in the current structure, systems and institutions of our country. Patterns of ownership and control of the economy should change in favour of the majority of South Africans, [most] of whom are Africans, especially women.

"We call upon all employers to take steps in eliminating discrimination in the workplace by ending unfair practices such as paying employees disproportionately for the same work and we welcome the proposal by the process led by the Deputy President of a minimum wage, which will start creating fairness in our country."

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