Speech by Hon Catherine Mabuza during the National Assembly debate on the Report of Adhoc Committee to Exercise Co-Ordinated Oversight on the legacy of the Land Native Act

29 October 2013

Honourable Speaker,

The Ad Hoc Committee’s oversight visit was to assess how land reform was being implemented, how successful the projects were, and what were some of the challenges. The Ad hoc Committee visited a total of 27 projects and or schemes, in Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, and 10 of these were Communal Property Associations (CPAs).

Honourable Speaker, this government, through the Department of Public Works as the custodian of State Assets, from 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2010:

  • Assisted in the land reform process and released 661.1689 hectares of land for restoration purposes.
  • Released 21 079.7762 hectares for redistribution purposes, including tenure.

The Department is also in the process of finalising and tabling the Expropriation Bill before Parliament, which aims to align the existing Expropriation Act (No. 63 of 1975) to the Constitution. This Bill will allow for property to be “expropriated for a public purpose or in the public interest, subject to just and equitable compensation".

Here are some of the findings made by the Ad hoc Committee, specifically related to CPAs:

Land can only be transferred to a legal entity (CPAs and Trusts) that have been constituted in terms of the law.

The Ad hoc Committee found that the most commonly used legal entities for holding of land by beneficiaries are CPAs. Since the inception of the Communal Property Associations Act (No. 28 of 1996) there existed approximately 1 500 registered CPAs to date.

The CPA Act is the legal basis for the establishment of a CPA and requires agreement between community members, which is written into a constitution.

The Ad hoc Committee found that there have been numerous challenges in the manner in which some of these institutions were established, who is represented on these, and how they are managed.

A few examples where there were challenges included:

Some members of a CPA appear to have signing powers without any form of internal controls, as was the case with the former chairperson of the Morobola CPA who withdrew R 400 000 from the CPA, without the consent of other members.

In the case of the Tshakuma CPA (which forms part of the Levubu claim in Limpopo) claimants only received 50 per cent of the land that they had claimed.

There were also a number of cases following restoration, where title deeds were not transferred to the CPAs.

Some projects (as in the case in Marobola CPA) used most of their income for security and maintenance due to the theft and vandalism that was experienced.

Another requirement of the CPA Act is that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform monitor and support CPAs and make sure that they meet the requirements of the Act.

The Ad hoc Committee found that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform had difficulty in implementing its monitoring and support responsibilities of CPAs.

The Department’s role of monitoring and supporting the legal entities was made difficult by the existence of approximately 1 500 registered CPAs as previously stated. The Department reported that it struggled with capacity constraints, particularly human resources.

The Ad hoc Committee found that the Department opted to provide onsite technical support to land reform beneficiaries, through the use of consultants who serve as ‘strategic partners’ on the projects. But, there is no clear definitive role that these strategic partners play.

In most instances, the value of the land was based on its productive capacity. Where there is no activity no income was generated, as was the case in Rathateng CPA in Brits, North West Province. This lack of productivity decreases the value of the land.

A few examples of successful projects:

The Bakgatla-ba-Kgafela claim, for example, consists of a good relationship between Chief Nyalala Philane and the CPA. The CPA Committee consists of equal numbers of people representing traditional leadership and beneficiaries.

Some CPAs used the income for social development such as building or renovating schools as is the case of the Makuleke CPA in Limpopo.

In many projects there was an established local market for selling vegetables and fruit to a supermarket and local vendors. The Snymandrift CPA, for example, also sells their products as far afield as Botswana.

Property in conservation and protected areas, such as, the Makuleke CPA in Limpopo and Dikgatlong CPA in the North West, are co-managed by members of the CPA, private sector, and the State. In these cases the beneficiaries did not settle the land, but received their title deeds.

Based on the findings from the oversight visit; the Ad hoc Committee made a number of recommendations as presented in the report, dated 22 October 2013. Some of these include:

  • That there should be proper guidelines on how the CPAs should function.
  • The role of traditional leaders within the CPAs be clarified
  • The relations between the beneficiaries and the strategic partners should be managed.
  • The support and monitoring role of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is strengthened.

In conclusion Honourable Speaker;

The Ad hoc Committee had embarked on a fact finding mission that included public hearings, workshops and the oversight visit. In this process, we learnt a lot in terms of the urgent need for continuing the process of the reversal of the legacy of the1913 Land Act.

Even though this process was undertaken under very tight timeframes that presented challenges, at the end of the day, we achieved the overall objective of the Ad Hoc Committee.

I therefore, wish to thank Honourable Thibedi for his leadership, the thoughtful engagement by members of the Ad Hoc Committee during the process; and the support staff that assisted throughout this vigorous exercise.

I Thank You!