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Nkwinti spells out land reform target

Mar 01 2012 14:05 Sapa

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Cape Town - Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti spelled out government’s 2014 land reform target in black and white on Thursday.

Briefing the media at parliament, he said this was necessary to dispel “confusion” around the figures.

The briefing, by ministers from government’s economic sectors and employment cluster, follows President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address last month during which he said the pace of land redistribution is “slow and tedious".

Nkwinti said there are 82 million hectares of agricultural land in South Africa “presumed to be in the hands of white commercial farmers".

Government aims to transfer 30% of this to black farmers by 2014, a total of 24.5 million hectares.

When Zuma referred in his address to a figure of only 8.2% of this land having been transferred to date, he was talking about 8.2% of the 82 million hectares.

When government speaks of getting 30% of land transferred, it means 30% of 82 million hectares, which is 24.5 million hectares.

To date, a total of 6.7 million hectares of land - including land transferred in terms of redistribution and restitution - has actually been transferred.

“Often, we say 30% by 2014, without specifying what we’re talking about. That’s really (what is causing) the confusion around this,” Nkwinti said.

On land claims, he said there are close to 9 000 of these outstanding.

“We have 8 770 land claims that we are working on right now, that are outstanding.”

Records

Explaining how this figure was arrived at, he said land claim commissioners have to date examined records in seven of the country’s nine provinces.

“Of the nine provinces, we’ve finished seven, and we’ve got 6 000 (claims), based on scanning-in and manually counting.

“We’re moving towards certainty now... we’re much closer to the real figure now, close to the 8 770 figure, and will complete the process at the end of this month.”

On completing a land audit - which many believe to be an essential basis from which to tackle land reform - he said the audit currently under way would identify only state and public-owned land. This would be completed by June this year.

“We have a team of 228 people working on the land audit. By end of June, we could be somewhere... I think they’ve done (to date) about five or so provinces.”

However, this audit would not reveal the extent of private transactions involving the sale of white-owned land to blacks, which would take much longer.

“There is a question about how much land is in the hands of the state in the form of communal areas and other forms. And, therefore, how much land still needs to be transferred from the 82 million hectares of land in the hands of white commercial farmers.

“That is the question. (But) when we say audit of land, we mean state and public land, because there’s no register now... that’s the purpose of this audit.

“But having done that, it (will) not tell you how much land transacts between persons in the private market, and therefore you could then add that to the (amount of) land that is transferred between white commercial farmers to black people in terms of (the) 82 million hectares of agricultural land in the country,” Nkwinti said.

To identify who owned what land requires further work.

“To identify the ownership of land, we need... to disaggregate it. Of the land that is transacted in the country, within and outside the state, how many of them (the transactions) are black?

“In order for us to get this information, we have to work and collaborate with (the department of home affairs). That project has started.”

It would also be necessary to work with the department of trade and industry, to identify land owned by companies. Collaboration with the master of the record would determine what land is held by trusts.

“We are forced to do this if we have to answer the question: How much land is really transacted, within and outside the state context.

“But right now what we’re doing is auditing the land in terms of state and public ownership. Because when we start moving into that disaggregation by race... all of those things... we’ve got a long way to go.”

Nkwinti did not say how long this might take.

Responding to a further question at the briefing, he said the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle is not the “worst impediment” to land reform.

“The worst impediment is... if land is sold to the state (as opposed to a private sale) the price kicks up immediately. This is a problem because the state is not a willing buyer, it’s a compelled buyer... That’s why we have to deal with it,” Nkwinti said. 

land reform  |  farmers  |  land
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