Commission on Restitution of Land Rights



The committee had listened to a presentation the previous week, and now formally adopted the Annual Report of the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights.

The Department of Agriculture presented a report on the progress made in the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme, which summarised the allocation and expenditure for 2004/5, and gave notes on the implementation performance for 2005/6. It was clear that progress was slow and many of the challenges in 2004/5 remained in the following year. Some provinces had finalised their allocations, but North-West was having problems implementing the programmes. A special task team had been set up to assist the province. Challenges included lack of capacity, lack of understanding of procurement procedures, poor planning, and lack of understanding of the programme. Many provinces struggled to spend in the first and second quarters. There was still no alignment with MAFISA. 70% of the programme was allocated for land reform beneficiaries. Members raised questions on the way in which support should be given and assessment of the value, the number of land reform projects, the scope of the schemes and whether they should also offer support to farmers who did not necessarily want their own land immediately. Several members questioned problems with capacity and procurement and training procedures. It was clear that assessment and control needed improvement. The chairperson commented that the department needed to check on the provinces.

The Department of Land Affairs gave a presentation on the Land Summit Resolutions and an overview of the willing buyer/willing seller principles for land acquisition. The background and recommendations of the Land Summit Resolutions were tabled. The progress made on certain issues was outlined, and the issues they addressed were described under the headings policy, legislation, implementation, and internal department initiatives. Policies on land tax, human settlements, post-settlement support framework, and foreign land ownership were briefly set out and discussed. Questions were raised on the benefit of land tax, the pricing of land, the use of estate agents or other agents to purchase land on behalf of government, certainty of tenure, marginalised women, and monitoring of illegal evictions.

Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme: Presentation by the Department of Agriculture

Mr Attie Swart (Chief Programme Officer, Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), Department of Agriculture (DOA)), presented a report to the committee outlining the department’s progress on CASP. The report summarised the allocation and expenditure for 2004/5, and gave notes on the implementation performance for 2005/6. It was clear that progress was slow and many of the challenges in 2004/5 remained in the following year. Some provinces had finalised their allocations, but North-West was having problems implementing the programmes. A special task team had been set up to assist the province. Challenges included lack of capacity, lack of understanding of procurement procedures, poor planning, and lack of understanding of the programme. Many provinces therefore struggled to spend in the first and second quarters. There was still no alignment with MAFISA. 70% of the programme was allocated for land reform beneficiaries. Figures on allocation, expenditure, and rollovers were presented for the 2004/5 and 2005/6, as well as the first quarter of the 2006/7 financial years.


Mr P Ditshetelo (UCDP) commented on the lack of capacity in North-West. He asked how many farmers had been assisted through CASP, and asked for a more detailed explanation on whether the problem of capacity had been rectified.

Mr Swart responded to the questions in general. He said that the full impact of CASP, measured in terms of the number of projects assisted, would only be available in the mid-term review, but conceded that it had been disappointing overall.

Mr S Abram (ANC) commented that he found the report generally disappointing. Empowerment would not result from major enterprises; success would rather be measured by supporting small ventures in agriculture to grow.

Mr Abram stated that it was understandable that provincial departments should not merely spend for the sake of spending, but rollovers indicated that the budgeting process had not been consistent.

Mr Swart reported that when the DOA followed the money-trail to ascertain effectiveness, it found that in some cases the funds had been 'parked' elsewhere. The money was awarded to the provinces on a quarterly basis in order to avoid an end-of-the-year rush to spend or park money. The DOA had received the reports from the provinces, and although there was no reason not to believe these reports, it became clear that the DOA needed to go to the provinces and investigate everything in detail. He added that although he understood the concerns about under-spending, this was at least preferable to inefficient expenditure.

Mr Abram commented that the committee needed to see the respective MECs to discuss capacity in provincial departments. He asked for specific information on procurement procedures, the number, and success of land reform projects. He stated that it was important to determine whether farmers were making a living, and if they followed the Shabanele process, including the financial side.

Mr A Nel (DA) also commented on the lack of capacity. He did not believe it would be necessary to see the MECs, but that affected people should know this was an option. He added that coordination was needed between the programmes of Land Redistribution for Agricultural Development (LRAD), CASP, and Micro-Agricultural Financial Institutions of South Africa (MAFISA).

Ms B Thompson (ANC) said that the department itself seemed to lack full understanding of the programme. She commented that the committee had been complaining about lack of capacity since 1994 while the resources were available, and asked when this would be achieved. She also asked why extension officers were not being trained so that they could do their jobs properly.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) questioned the lack of procurement procedures and the lack of understanding of the programme by the department. She asked what precisely it was about the programme that the provinces did not understand. She stated that people should be trained, or that they should leave.

Mr A Swart commented that there were teething problems, but he did not believe it could be said that there was poor planning at the present moment. He said the DOA had some information, as yet unverified, indicating that there were 53 000 beneficiaries in 1 200 projects. At the end of the year, the DOA would look at the quality of the expenditure.

Mr S Abrams (ANC) asked how many people had lost their land. He pointed out that in Ladysmith, the DOA had apparently put a farm on auction but then bought it back themselves, and in Tzaneen a farm was purchased for R1 million, but sold for R125 000. He commented that some farmers had workers with experience on their land, and were willing to act as mentors if those farm workers acquired their own land. He asked whether the DOA had a policy in the land reform process to assist people who have a definite flair for farming, as opposed to assisting only those who wanted their own land.

Dr A van Niekerk (DA) believed that assessment and control must take place at ground level. He felt that the top-down approach of the DOA was wrong, and they should rather take advice from those 'on the ground'.

Ms B Ntuli (ANC) stressed that the DOA should check the provinces regularly, even if this costed more money, and that the DOA needed to interview the provincial directors-general to assess what they were doing to correct the current situation.

Adv S Holomisa (ANC) commented that there were too many failing projects in CASP.

Mr A Nel (DA) said that he was more interested to know how many projects had been successful than to hear how many beneficiaries there were.

The chairperson commented that it seemed vital that the DOA should set up meetings with the provincial directors-general.

Resolutions from Land Summit, and notes on the Willing Buyer/Willing Seller principle: Presentation by the Department of Land Affairs

Mr Mduduzi Shabane (Deputy Director-General, Land and Tenure Reform: Department of Land Affairs (DLA)), outlined the resolutions from the Land Summit and presented the department’s notes on the willing buyer/willing seller principle. He sketched the background to the Land Summit recommendations. This included 30% redistribution of agricultural land by 2014, land reform contributions to economic growth and transformation, support for small-scale agriculture, and promoting subdivision of agricultural land. The principle of willing seller/willing buyer (WSWB) needed to be reviewed, and state capacity and resources needed to be enhanced in a sustainable way. Strategic partnerships would have to be formed between the state, social movements, and other stakeholders. The new approach also required that farm dwellers benefited from land reform, that the process be decentralised and integrated into wider development priorities. The state needed to conduct a land audit, regulate ownership by foreigners, and prioritise restitution.

Mr Shabane stated that a national, broad-based steering committee had been established and terms of reference developed. Technical task teams had been established. Policy issues under review included the WBWS principles, land tax, expropriation and compensation, post-settlement support, evictions and security of tenure, sustainable human settlements, moratorium on evictions, communication strategy, and review of legislation. Implementation issues, including acquisition, land audit, and settlement initiatives, were listed and explained.

A short presentation was given on the willing buyer/willing seller principle, setting out what it meant in general and what it meant in South Africa. The distinction was clearly drawn between restitution and redistribution. The delivery statistics were set out for 1994-2004. Comparisons of the prices paid in the market and the prices paid under the restitution and redistribution programmes were tabled. Delivery graphs covering 1994-2004 were also tabled. Mr Shabane concluded that WBWS had constrained delivery in agricultural and peri-urban land only. Pro-active land acquisition needed to be implemented in these areas. The principle was ideally suited to other areas. Restitution prices were escalating and therefore expropriation could be a tool to contain escalating costs.


Dr A van Niekerk said that new farmers used the land they received as collateral for financing, and if the value of that land came under pressure, this put the financing system also under pressure. He felt that a Land Tax would put another burden on farmers’ profits and viability. He suggested that the DLA should rather increase the budgets for acquisition in order to avoid putting the financing system under pressure.

Mr Shabane responded that the DLA was constrained by the willing buyer/willing seller (WBWS) principles in general. If the state wanted to achieve the 2014 targets, it would have to use many instruments, of which WBWS would only be one. Land tax was an incentive, as well as a land ceiling without which it would take a very long time to balance the current ratio of land ownership. He added that the DLA would deal with willing sellers first, and then the second phase would deal with those who were not willing sellers. He cited an example in Limpopo where negotiations went on for three to five years, but only when the possibility of expropriation was mentioned, willing sellers came forth.

Mr Abram said the government should not be willing to pay any price for land. If the prices for farms were too high, there should be a law that could be utilised to keep the prices reasonable. He did not agree with Dr A van Niekerk’s suggestions, as he felt that the value of the land should be based upon what it could produce, not on what the government was willing to pay for it. This should be the deciding factor when farmers sought finance and offered their farms as collateral. He also said that estate agents should not be allowed to enter the process.

Mr Shabane commented that there had been a suggestion that the DLA should consider using estate agents, after which a proposal and presentation had been made, but there were no agreements.

Mr Nel suggested that the government should use an agent, not an estate agent, to place a bid in order to screen the identity of the buyer. He emphasised the importance of the farmers’ certainty of tenure.

Mr Shabane concurred that prices tended to rise once it was known that government was the buyer. The DLA could not follow the example of Brazil, as South African beneficiaries often did not have sufficient education to negotiate, therefore prices agreed upon between beneficiaries and farmers would invariably be too high. He added that legislation on security of tenure was already at an advanced level.

Ms C Nkuna (ANC) enquired about the importance of marginalised women in the DLA’s planning and actions.

Mr Shabane stated that emerging women farmers were represented in talks by an alliance of land reform and social movements. The committees on which they were represented had a fairly cumbersome structure because so many groups were involved, including The World Bank, and it was difficult to get everyone together at the same time. He concluded by saying that legislation concerning the security of tenure were already at an advanced level.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) enquired about farm dwellers, and emphasised the importance of a system to monitor illegal evictions.

Mr Shabane stated that on the issue of farm dwellers and evictions, the DLA needed to see a show of goodwill from landowners.

Ms Nkuna asked how much longer such a wait would be, as the show of goodwill had already been long overdue.

Mr M Shabane clarified that the department could not wait forever. Over the years farmers were successful in legally evicting people. With the right legislation, the DLA could close that gap.

He further stated that people would not just be given land, but that they would be nurtured in the farming process. This had also been done in previous years. He further clarified that expropriation in itself did not diminish the land value. Expropriation would be based on the constitution. Factors taken into consideration included the price which the current farm owner paid for the land, market values, and the farm’s current value.

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Supporting Land Reform Beneficiaries Summit

26, 27 July 2006
Indaba Hotel

Wednesday 26 July 2006
The current landscape of land reform in South Africa
Tackling the challenges faced by small-scale farmers

Thursday 27 July 2006
Tackling the challenges faced by small-scale farmers
Curbing the negative impact of emerging farmers on food security

Papers presented by our department

Limitations on successful farmer settlement
Mr Petso Mokhatla, Research Assistant in the Centre for Agricultural Management

Strategic approach to farming success
Dr Wimpie Nell, Director: Centre for Agricultural Management

A systems approach to improve food security by means of vegetable production
Dr Wimpie Nell and Petso Mokhatla

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Contact Dr Wimpie Nell
+27 51 401 3759


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