The Ministerial task team appointed by Cabinet to engage traditional leaders on the land expropriation issue met with the leadership of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) and leaders of provincial houses today, Friday, 06 July 2018 in Pretoria.
The delegation of Traditional leaders was led by the Chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL), Ikosi Sipho Mahlangu who was accompanied by the executive committee and the chairpersons of the provincial houses of traditional leaders.
Cabinet has appointed a task team of four Ministers to deal with the question of land as it relates to this current debates, led by COGTA Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, and including Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister Senzeni Zokwana and Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. The task team is part of a bigger Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform led by Deputy President David Mabuza to coordinate and implement measures to accelerate the redistribution of land, the extension of security of tenure, the provision of agricultural support and the redress of spatial inequality within a broad and comprehensive land redistribution and agricultural development programme.
“A wrong impression has been created that the discussion on land expropriation includes land in the hands of traditional leaders. Government wishes to clarify categorically that when government talks about land expropriation, we are referring to the 87 percent of the land not the 13 percent that is under the control of traditional leaders and black people. We wish to emphasise that the 13 percent of the land is not under any dispute,” said Minister Mkhize.
Minister Mkhize also emphasized that President Cyril Ramaphosa had hosted a breakfast of the BRICS Business Council today, Friday morning, 06 July and at its conclusion, he stated without ambiguity and clarified the misunderstanding on land targeted for expropriation.
Government has noted the serious concerns raised by traditional leaders with respect to the report of the High Level Panel appointed by Parliament on the Assessment of Key Legislation and the Acceleration of Fundamental Change, led by Former President Kgalema Motlanthe. “Government would like to emphasise that the views expressed in that report are not those of government or the governing party but those of the Panel”, said Minister Mkhize.
After clarifying the importance and the purpose of the task team, Minister Mkhize called for inputs from the traditional leaders on the unfolding debates around the issues of land ownership and expropriation without compensation. The traditional leaders appreciated the speed and the urgency with which government has reacted to the concerns of land ownership and expropriation. Traditional leaders committed to continue working with government to improve lives of communities, especially those in their traditional areas.
Ikosi Mahlangu stated that traditional leaders had serious reservations about the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act, 2013 (SPLUMA). Minister Mkhize committed to joining hands to find the best way to ensure cooperation and working together between traditional leaders and government, especially municipalities. He said SPLUMA should assist to empower not only government, but also Traditional Leaders in the usage of land.
The other concerns raised by traditional leaders were on the possible review of chapters 7 and 12 of the Constitution. Government said the matter is being given attention and that the process will unfold as part of the broader work to address concerns raised in various platforms by traditional leaders.
“Government would like to work with traditional leaders to ensure the resolution of this centuries old historical injustice of land dispossession”, said Minister Mkhize. He urged all in attendance that we should not be diverted by the misunderstanding that has arisen due to the High Level Panel report which has been misconstrued to be the position of government or the governing party.
Government has since made it clear that it supports land restitution and redistribution which will redress the sins of the past by allowing access to the land in a way that grows the economy, ensures food security, and increases agricultural production.
On 19 June 1913 thousands of black families were forcibly removed from their land following the promulgation of the 1913 Natives Land Act. Stripped of their land, homes, livelihoods and their dignity they were forced into homelands or relocated to poorly planned and serviced townships. Prior to this black people were also forcibly removed from their land by various discriminatory laws, policies and practices enacted by colonialist and imperialist governments.
In 1994 the democratic government identified the need for land and agrarian reform as part of national reconciliation. Land Restitution as one of the three elements of land reform was aimed at providing redress to persons and communities dispossessed of their property rights by previous governments.
The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa allows for restitution to any person or community dispossessed of land rights before 27 April 1994. The Constitution also guarantees the right to property, albeit with the power of expropriation, subject to compensation that is just and equitable.
On Tuesday 27 February 2018, the National Assembly adopted a motion to amend the Constitution so as to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation. The matter has since been referred to the Constitutional Review Committee which must report back to Parliament by 30 August. There is a series of public hearings followed by committee meetings to agree on a recommendation to the National Assembly.
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