by Ismail Obaray – DA Spokesperson of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform
Date: 12 October 2017
Type: Press Statement
The DA is questioning the Northern Cape Agriculture Department’s decision to withhold title deeds from smallholder farmers in exchange for entering into lease agreements with land reform beneficiaries, many of whom have been working the earth for a number of years with the promise that they would one day become the rightful owners of the land.
MEC of Agriculture, Norman Shushu told delegates at a National Council of Provinces (NCOP) week briefing in Kimberley this week that his department has chosen not to present emerging farmers with full title deeds because some of the farmers are apparently selling their farms. But, as far as the DA is concerned, the MEC offers a feeble and unconvincing excuse for delaying land restitution.
The ANC in the Northern Cape sees fit to transfer title deeds of state land to John Block and his associates yet it will not hand over land to the men and women who work it.
Clearly this is not in the best interests of our people and it is most definitely not in the best interests of much needed transformation to rectify the skewed patterns of land ownership that exclude the majority of South Africans from land assets and inclusion in rural economies.
Through the land redistribution programme, emerging farmers were supposed to be able to buy back the land that they lease from the state. But this has not happened. Now the leasing of state-owned land has replaced the original private ownership model and the prospects of emerging farmers ever owning farm land under the ANC-led government look more hopeless than ever.
It is increasingly clear that the ANC-led government does not have the political will to hand over land to the landless and to restore property rights to those who were disenfranchised during the apartheid years. Instead, they are callously using land as a political tool through which to retain power over the poorest of the poor in order to secure votes.
This is selfish and manipulative and it exposes the true colours of the ANC.
Without ownership farmers cannot raise capital, cannot remove illegal land invaders, and cannot expand production. Without ownership, farmers in effect remain landless.
The DA has submitted a number of questions to MEC Shushu regarding his submission on the department’s decision to withhold the awarding of title deeds. Amongst other things, we want to know how many emerging farmers who were awarded title deeds ended up selling their farms and to whom they sold them; what the core reasons for them selling their farms was; and what type of support, by way of skills transfer, training and financial support, they actually received?
In the Northern Cape and across South Africa, the ANC is withholding the transfer of 1,4 million hectares of land to its rightful owners, meaning that 41% of the land in possession of the state has not been given to farmers deserving of title deeds.
The DA will fight for the land rights of farmers who have been left at the mercy of a self serving, power hungry and corrupt ANC. Only the awarding of title deeds, coupled with adequate financial support for emerging farmers, will see land reform prosper. Anything less is a con and should not fool anyone into thinking that the ANC actually cares about establishing a fair, diverse and thriving agricultural sector.
DA Spokesperson of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform
082 380 2128
Shelley De Witt
082 847 1387