Hon Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers and hon members, all anticolonial struggles are at the core about two things: repossession of land usurped through force or deceit; and restoring the centrality of the indigenous culture. That is why the colonialists targeted land - to subdue conquered populations, in order to turn them into vassals and slaves. At the outset I make the submission that landlessness does not only impair the section 10 constitutional right to human dignity but perpetuates poverty and inequality.
Forced removal of people from their ancestral land is overtly a strategy that serves an idealistic colonial agenda of undermining cultures and customs of the colonised. However, I contend that the use of race as a basis for forceful land dispossession is a phenomenon, but not an essential one. In essence, I dare say, it is a matter of divorcing the producer from production means to convert him into a proletarian whose labour power is at the disposal of the malicious usurper for unfettered exploitation, to realise unlimited profit maximisation. The truth of the matter is that land dispossession is never a matter of pure sentiment impelled by a sense of racial supremacy, though ostensibly it could manifest itself beneath such cloak or identity. Land restitution's purpose is to return victims of dispossession to the original position prior to the unlawful disturbance of their occupation. In other words, the purpose is not merely the restoration of ownership of land to victims of dispossession but the reunification of the producer with the means of production. Allow me to illustrate the point about returning the victim to the original position, that of producer, by recalling with you the conditions that were obtained on the eve of the signing of the Natives Land Act 27 of 1913, by Lord Gladstone, on 16 June and its promulgation on 19 June 1913.
Wide-scale dispossession of land from the indigenous communities of South Africa was not a phenomenon that only began in 1913. The forcible dispossession, which went together with colonial conquest, already had a massive impact on the distribution of the African population. Taxes forced people to seek wage-paying labour in the towns and cities. Peasant producers lost land when they were unable to manage their debt.
This notwithstanding, there was a category of close to a million African tenant farmers who lived and farmed on white-owned land. They did so either as ordinary or rent-paying tenants, or as sharecroppers paying half of their crop as rental, or as labour tenants making the labour of family members available for part of the year, in return of the use of land for cattle and cultivation. Although they were pejoratively referred to as squatters, in many ways, they were prosperous farmers.
The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform presented a highly misleading statistic to Parliament, exaggerating the scale of purchase of land by Africans. Complaints were made by Members of Parliament about the squatters doing their own farming and being unwilling to provide labour to white farmers, who were, as a result, forced to use their own children to work on the farms. This led to the introduction of a short notice to Members of Parliament and no notice to the African population, of the Natives Land Bill, by the Minister of Native Affairs, J W Sauer.
It is therefore not surprising that, days before the signing of the Act, some white farm owners had already begun to enforce the grim choice posed by the Act on African tenants renting land from them. They said to the African tenants, and I quote, "either you forgo your cattle and your crop farming and work for me as my labourer, or you leave!"
Racial discrimination conjoined with economic exclusion inexorably created conditions for the birth of its nemesis, its gravediggers. On 8 January 1912, the SA Native National Congress, SANNC, was formed in Mangaung. The National Executive Committee of the SANNC, led by President John Langalibalele Dube, appointed a delegation to travel to Britain to lobby the imperial government to use its power as the colonial government and perceived protector of rights of the native population, to bring about the repeal of the Act. However, the representations to the imperial government fell on deaf ears. Sol Plaatje, the then secretary-general of the SANNC records that the secretary of state, and I quote, "took notes on nothing."
It is trite that the SANNC became the ANC in 1923. The ANC has always understood that land restitution is inalienable to agrarian transformation, as epitomised in the declaratory words of the Freedom Charter, "the land shall be shared among those who work it." Land reform to the ANC signifies more than the compensation of victims, which, according to section 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa - equitable redress - may, in lieu of restitution of property, be awarded to victims. In other words, those who suffered land dispossession may, instead of land, be awarded its financial equivalent.
The 52nd National Conference of the ANC resolved to, amongst other things, embark on an integrated programme of rural development, land reform and agrarian change, based on, amongst others, and I quote:
... fundamental changes in the patterns of land ownership through the redistribution of 30% of agricultural land before 2014. This must include comprehensive support programmes with proper monitoring mechanisms to ensure sustainable improvements in livelihoods for the rural poor, farm workers, farm dwellers and small farmers, especially women.
The conference further resolved as follows:
Where necessary expropriate property in the public interest or for public purposes in accordance with the Constitution to achieve equity, redress, social justice and sustainable development.
In the 2009 Manifesto, the ANC committed to, among other things:
Intensify the land reform programme to ensure that more land is in the hands of the rural poor and will provide them with technical skills and financial resources to productively use the land to create sustainable livelihoods and decent work in rural areas, [to] ensure a much stronger link between land and agrarian reform programmes and water resource allocation.
The ANC regards rural development as a pillar of the struggle against unemployment, poverty and inequality. It is also critical that correcting the injustices of the past ensures that women increasingly become beneficiaries and decision-makers in respect of strategies to overcome poverty in rural areas.
Having acknowledged the challenges that accompany land reform, especially in relation to land acquisition through the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle, the ANC resolved in its 53rd National Conference:
To replace the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle with the just and equitable principle in the Constitution immediately where the state is acquiring land for land reform purposes.
Therefore, since the promulgation and repeal of the Natives Land Act, the ANC has unceasingly undertaken to reverse the dispossession of the masses of South Africans. It has sought to reverse the grim choice imposed on African people as epitomised by the greed-laced words of the then white farm owner who said, "Either you forgo your cattle and your crop farming and work for me as my labourer or leave!" In essence, the ANC is relentless and resolute in its intention to reunite the producer with the means of production.
Our oversight visits testify beyond reasonable doubt that our government has made strides to ensure access to land by our people. The beneficiaries appreciated being awarded property as opposed to financial compensation. By and large, the expressed conviction by beneficiaries is that land is a resource for the benefit of the current generation and posterity, unlike money, which is fungible and ephemeral.
Almost all 27 projects visited reported creation of job opportunities, although at varying levels. However, competitive pressures confronting the agricultural enterprises and disputes within the legal entities put job security at risk. Yet, some Communal Property Associations, CPAs, and trusts visited were investing their profits in public goods. Of note is the Makuleke CPA located in the Vhembe District, which created over 200 jobs for CPA members. The CPA invested profits in public goods such as schools. Another example is the KwaCele CPA, which created jobs for 200 workers and formed a bursary scheme to fund students who took courses in agriculture.
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights reported that over 97% of just fewer than 80 000 claims lodged by 1998 had been settled. The settled land claims have benefited about 370 000 households, with a total of about 135 000 being female-headed households.
However, the costs of restitution have been prohibitive due to the cost of land acquisition. Since the inception of restitution in 1995, the state has paid over R15 billion for land purchases and R7,5 billion in financial compensation. About 69 000 of the land claimants were awarded financial compensation instead of restoration of land. This is mainly due to the urban nature of land claims, which rendered it not feasible to restore original land.
In the postapartheid era Parliament passed the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act of 1996 as a temporary measure for protection of certain rights to and interest in land. In 2004, Parliament passed the Communal Land Rights Act of 2004, which was declared unconstitutional after it was challenged by a group of communities. Cabinet published the Green Paper on Land Reform for public comments in August 2011. The policy proposes communal land ownership under a communal tenure system with institutionalised use of rights.
The overall vision of the land reform process has been to redistribute 30% of white-owned agricultural land by 2014. Government policy on land redistribution has evolved from the delivery of land through the Settlement Land Acquisition Grant, which targeted the poor households - those with incomes below R1 500,00 - to the Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development, LRAD, programme in 2001. The LRAD programme was introduced to include all black South Africans not employed by the state, but mostly with a portion of own contribution in the purchase of land. The current policy for land redistribution is the Proactive Land Acquisition Strategy, Plas. The Plas mechanism involves the state purchase of privately owned land and the leasing of it to potential emerging black farmers. It focuses primarily on the creation of black commercial farmers.
Some of the objects of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act 16 of 2013 are as per section 3 of the Act, namely ensuring that the system of spatial planning and land use management promotes social and economic inclusion and redressing past imbalances. In this regard, the Act provides for a municipality to amend its land use scheme in the public interest or to advance the interest of a disadvantaged community.
We are therefore pleased that the land audit that the department has recently launched is beginning to bear appropriate fruit. It is only when we know the true ownership of each hectare and the purpose and use thereof that the public interest shall be served meaningfully. Land, in the main, should not be used for recreational purposes, as prime land is being used for golf courses. Land should be used to redress past imbalances and fight poverty and unemployment.
Today, our nation is confronted with the legacy of the 1913 Natives Land Act and it is upon our shoulders to reverse it. We should do so now and not later. Yes, we have traversed the path, but more should be done to reunite the producer with the means of production. We can't but fully agree with the beneficiaries of land restitution that land is an asset for our generation and posterity, whereas money is fungible and ephemeral.
We bear the hopes of our forebears that land shall be shared amongst those who work it. Food security and economic development can only be ensured when prime agricultural land is not only returned to the dispossessed but used according to its natural purpose. If we join hands together, hunger and dependence will be but a faint, distant memory. Again, we must underscore the point that land reform rings hollow if it is disembowelled of agrarian transformation. The two must move together. I therefore move that this report be accepted. The ANC supports the report. I thank you, hon Speaker. [Applause.]