From across the political spectrum, the slow pace of land reform was lamented.
Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti delivered his department’s budget to the National Assembly on Friday.
He said research capacity is a problem, and to this end, the government is working toward transforming the Land Claims Commission to Chapter Nine institution.
“Land was taken from our people over centuries,” he said.
He also framed the need for land reform within the National Development Plan, from which he quoted more than once. He also quoted Ché Guevara.
Accurate land audit
Nkwinti attacked poverty and said deprivation must be the first priority of a democratic government.
“Economic transformation is not for itself, but for changing the conditions of our people for the better.”
He said the second phase of the land audit, determining the race and gender of land owners, needed to be completed, and it needed to be accurate.
“We keep talking about willing buyer, willing seller. There is no such thing,” he said, eliciting applause from the African National Congress benches.
He said the office of the Valuer-General, one of the few institutions of its sort in the world, will determine what was just and equitable compensation.
He also said his department was working with the department of water and sanitation to introduce a system where water rights were attached to land, not to individuals.
ANC MP Phumuzile Ngwenya-Mabila said restitution was taking place slowly because of capacity constraints.
“To have land is not a privilege, it is a right,” she said.
“People will not be free until land is returned to them.” She also called for the land audit to be completed.
Several opposition MPs complained that the ANC government is not handing over title deeds to land reform beneficiaries.
Democratic Alliance MP Ken Robertson suggested his party was more serious about land reform, as they handed over title deeds where they govern.
“Honourable minister, please, give the people the land,” said Dr Pieter Groenewald, leader of the Freedom Front Plus.
DA MP Thomas Walters said: “The ANC uses poverty and state largesse to maintain a voting block for itself.”
National Freedom Party MP Professor Moses Khubisa also said people needed title deeds, and joined the call for the land audit to be concluded.
Khubisa also said farmers who abuse people should be dealt with, but the same applied to farm murders.
“Farmers must not be killed.”
Economic Freedom Front MP Sam Matiase started by quoting Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
He said it has been 104 years since the white minority regime passed the infamous 1913 Land Act, which dispossessed black people of land.
“Today we have a black government that refuse to complete a struggle their great grandfathers died for,” he said.
He said the ANC refused to change the Constitution to allow for speedier land reform.
“The ANC has been sloganeering for too long,” he said. “You’ll be remembered as people with no balls.”
Groenewald said the government dragged its feet with land reform so that it could use it as a political football.
Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa called for an investigation into the criminal element, collusion and price inflation in land reform.
In his response, Nkwinti said the question of title deeds was true. “We’re not giving title deeds until we stabilise the land reform process.”
He said the second phase of the land audit was concluded. “It is before Cabinet now.” — News24