9 April 2010

Time for rural people to experience change: Gugile Nkwinti

 ANC Today, 9 April 2010

Progress Report | By Gugile Nkwinti

It is the time for rural people to experience the desired change that we have all talked about

The resolution of the 52nd National Conference of the ANC (December 2007) on agrarian change, land reform and rural development, confirmed the ANC's acute awareness and sensitivity to the centrality of land (the land question) as a fundamental element in the resolution of the race, gender and class contradictions in South Africa.

National sovereignty is defined in terms of land. That is why, even without it being enshrined in the country's supreme law, the constitution, land is a national asset. That is where the debate about agrarian change, land reform and rural development should, appropriately, begin. Without this fundamental assumption, talk of land reform and food security is superfluous!

We must, and shall, fundamentally review the current land tenure system during this Medium Term Strategic Framework period. This we shall do through rigorous engagement with all South Africans, so that we should emerge with a tenure system which will satisfy the aspirations of all South Africans, irrespective of race, gender and class.

It is therefore fitting and appropriate, that the strategy of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform be 'Agrarian Transformation' - interpreted to denote 'a rapid and fundamental change in the relations (systems and patterns of ownership and control) of land, livestock, cropping and community.' The objective of the strategy is 'social cohesion and development.' All anti-colonial struggles are at the core about two things, repossession of lost land and restoring the centrality of indigenous culture.

To deepen one's appreciation of this statement, one has to look in-depth at colonialist use of land, to subdue conquered population and the use of tribal or ethnic sub-cultures to submerge the cross-cutting culture, which characterises all tribal or ethnic groups - Ubuntu or human solidarity in the case of Africans. The super-profiling of ethnic or tribal subcultures by colonialists is deliberately meant to create competition and conflict amongst them – the divide and rule tactic generally used to deepen subjugation. Ubuntu, the over-arching African way of life, is integrally linked to land. Any attempt to restore Ubuntu without a concomitant land restoration is futile.

Social cohesion is a direct function of the restoration of land and indigenous culture. It is not just about allegiance to national symbols, e.g. the National Anthem and Flag, important as they are. Social cohesion is built around a people's culture. In multi-cultural societies it is built around recognition of cultural diversity as strength and using such diversity to build social cohesion. Despite cultural differences, members of communities generally share the same values and taboos and tend to use those values and taboos to develop hybrid or sub-cultures which combine to hold people together.

People tend to attend the same churches, schools and play for the same clubs and become members of the same stokvels, societies, trade unions, business organisations, political parties, co-operatives etc. These institutions create subcultures which bind them together. In rural communities relationships are much deeper as they tend to be historical and inter-generational. Mutuality is a way of life which would have evolved organically, nourished and cemented by shared hard and good times.

In African societies these relational virtues are summed up in one word: Ubuntu. This is the bedrock of African culture. Colonialism and Apartheid sought at all times, and by all means to destroy it. Of all such means, the Natives Land Act 27 of 1913 and the migrant labour system are the ones which wreaked the most havoc in African rural communities, seriously undermining the virtues of Ubuntu as people lost their basic expression of Ubuntu - the ability to give/ izinwe, which disappeared with the loss of their land; they could no longer produce enough food to feed themselves; they could not keep livestock; they had to survive on meagre wages, which could hardly meet their family needs, let alone being generous and share with neighbours.

Colonialism and apartheid brutalised black people, turning them into hostages to perennial hunger, related diseases and social strifes and disorders. Rural development and land reform must be the catalyst in the ANC government's mission to reverse this situation. It took centuries to inflict it on black people and it is going to take quite a while to address it, but it shall be done. That long road necessarily starts with the crafting of a new pragmatic but fundamentally altered land tenure system for the country. Any other option will perpetuate social fragmentation and underdevelopment.

Development and its corollary, underdevelopment as outcomes, are a function of certain political choices and decisions as well as certain administrative actions, processes, procedures and institutions. Defined in this context, development denotes 'social, cultural and economic progress brought about through certain political choices and decisions and realised through certain administrative actions, processes, procedures and institutions.' The key parameters for measuring development therefore, are social, political, administrative, cultural, institutional and economic. Depending on the type of political choices and decisions and administrative actions, processes, procedures and institutions put in place, there will be progress (development) or stagnation (under-development).

In short, depending on the type of political choices we make, and the decisions we take now, the type of administrative actions we take, the processes, procedures and institutions we put in place, will either bring about the desired social cohesion and development or will perpetuate the colonial-apartheid's social fragmentation and under-development.

For the sake of clarity, 'development' indicators in this text are 'shared growth and prosperity, full employment, relative income equality and cultural progress and those for 'under-development' are 'poverty, unemployment, inequality and cultural backwardness'. It is submitted here that the two opposing socio-economic pillars, development and under-development, are a function of certain political choices and decisions, as well as certain administrative actions, processes, procedures and institutions; not just any political choice or decision, nor any administrative action, process, procedure or institution. They distinguish one ideological perspective from the other.

Apartheid was an outcome of particular political choices and decisions which were executed through a plethora of oppressive policies and laws, which were carefully crafted to achieve the set outcome. Consider the following passage from one Maurice Evans, on the reduction in the Natal land quota for black people in this regard:

"Yet even this will mean an average of 156 acres per head of European population, and 6.8 acres for every native, while, 'the land which will fall within the European areas is infinitely healthier, more fertile, and altogether more desirable, than either present locations or the areas recommended by the Beaumont Commission".

This was not an isolated case. It was the South African story in the systematic denudation and impoverishment of black people. Our effort to bring about the corrective measures necessary to tone down the anger, bitterness and pain of those who were subject to this brutal treatment must be collective. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has adequately demonstrated the capacity of black South Africans to forgive. But we should not take this goodwill for granted, because it is not inexhaustible. Working together we must build our collective future on this critical social asset.

Conceptualisation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP)

In our efforts to make rural development a reality, we have developed the framework for Comprehensive Rural Development. This has been shared with all sector departments at national and provincial levels. The key thrust of the framework is an integrated programme of rural development, land reform and agrarian change

Piloting CRDP

In our quest to create vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities, the Department is implementing the CRDP in several wards in the country. Since the launch of the first pilot site by the President of the Republic in Muyexe, Limpopo province, the Department has expanded the implementation of the CRDP and is currently working in 21 wards in the country. This work will be rolled out to 160 additional wards by 2014 as stated by the President. We have adopted all the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme (IRSDP) nodes, and have incorporated the lessons learnt into the CRDP. As from 1 April 2010 the War on Poverty, which has prioritised 1 128 wards over the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) period will be relocated from the Presidency to the Department.

Building institutional capacity

During this period we have also been working on building the institutional capacity of the Department to deliver effectively on this mandate. A new organogram has already been approved by the Minister of Public Service and Administration and the National Treasury. The Department is currently in the process of recruiting the required capacity. As promised during my maiden budget vote speech, the post settlement support strategy has been strengthened and properly capacitated with more than 100 employees across the country. Realising that we cannot do this alone, partnerships have been developed with tertiary and research institutions.

An overview of the Department's overall performance has been completed and has guided the development of certain short and medium term strategic and operational remedies.

The CRDP job creation and skills training model

Of importance is that in each area where the CRDP is being implemented, a new vibrancy has been created around working together, involving communities, the three spheres of government and the private sector. This has enabled us to mobilise resources from all sectors of government to enhance delivery. An inclusive CRDP stakeholder participation model has been developed with the Council of Stakeholders functioning as the planning, implementation and monitoring body. Communities themselves have become central to their own development. We have through the work undertaken at the CRDP sites, and in conjunction with both National, Provincial and Local Government, erected infrastructure such as housing, water, sanitation, agricultural inputs, community halls, multi-purpose centres, fencing, renovation of schools and clinics and much more. Simultaneous with the implementation of these different projects, we have been piloted a Job Creation and Skills training model.

Priorities of Government

The mandate of the Department is derived from the five priorities of the ruling party and government's MTSF priorities.

The CRDP has set us on a new course for postcolonial reconstruction and development. This shall be achieved through coordinated and broad based agrarian transformation which will focus on:

  • Building communities through Social mobilisation and institution building;
  • Strategic investment in old and new social, economic, ICT infrastructure and public amenities and facilities coordinated through the Rural Infrastructure Programme;
  • A new land reform programme implemented in the context of the reviewed Land Tenure System;
  • Rendering of professional and technical services as well as effective and sustainable resource management through the component of Geo-spatial Services, Technology Development and Disaster Management.
  • Effective provision of cadastral and deeds registry as well as Surveys and Mapping services

The Department is committed to the achievement of outcome 7 of the 12 outcomes pursued by Government over the MTSF period and that is: 'vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities'. The success of this Department over the MTSF period will be measured through delivery on the following outputs:

  • Sustainable land reform;
  • Food security for all;
  • Rural development and sustainable livelihoods; and,
  • Job creation linked to skills training.

Challenges in the current service delivery model

I have to acknowledge that the land reform programmes implemented to date have not been sustainable and have not provided the anticipated benefits to the recipients of the programme. To date approximately 6 million hectares of land have been transferred through restitution and redistribution and much of this land is not productive and has not created any economic benefit for many of the new owners. There has been an over emphasis on hectares at the expense of development and food security.

This has contributed to declining productivity on farms; decrease in employment in the agricultural sector; and, deepening poverty in the countryside. Coupled with this is a "leak-out" of the redistributed land which results from recipients failing to honour debts with the Land Bank and other commercial banks. The monetary implications to transfer the remaining 19 million hectares of land, by 2014 has been calculated at approximately R72 billion if we are to continue to pursue the willing buyer willing seller model. It is clear that the current land reform environment is the result of institutional weaknesses in overall land management, policy and legislation.

What is to be done?

1. Rural development

One of our key responsibilities is the revitalisation of small rural towns as they act as catalysts for development and job creation in the rural and peri-urban areas. This will be achieved by interfacing rural and peri-urban areas through infrastructure development, initiatives to meet basic human needs, enterprise development, agro village industries and credit facilities. Key drivers in this regard will be water services, energy, sanitation, communication system and human skills.

The Department will also form an integral part in the local government turn-around strategy by providing support to municipalities in the compilation of Spatial Development Frameworks.

2. Sustainable land reform:

The challenges in our current service delivery model and fiscal constraints have compelled us to review our targets and develop alternative approaches relating to the restitution and redistribution programme. The following principles will underpin our new approach towards sustainable land reform, namely:

  • de-racialisation of the rural economy for shared and sustained growth;
  • democratic and equitable land allocation and use across gender, race; and, class, and
  • strict production discipline for guaranteed national food security.

3. Food Security for all

To respond to the challenges of the collapsing land reform projects and defunct irrigation schemes in the former homelands, we have introduced a new programme called "Recapitalisation and Development". The objectives of this programme are to increase production; to guarantee food security; to graduate small farmers into commercial farmers and create employment opportunities within the agricultural sector. The core principles of the programme are mentorship; co-management and share equity.

To implement this programme, we have taken a decision to allocate 25% of our baseline land acquisition budget; this amounts to R900million for the 2010/11 financial year. The centrality of the public-private partnership in the recapitalisation and development programme cannot be over-emphasised. We are encouraged that organised agriculture has fully embraced this strategic intervention.

4. Job creation and skills training

We are driven by the vision to put one job in every rural household. From the CRDP entry point of mobilising and organising rural people we build unemployed peoples' skills, particularly the youth and unleash them in their own communities to do decent work.

Having entered into strategic partnerships such as with the Department of Higher Education and Training, the same youth will undergo intensive preparations in running their own enterprises, thus creating sustainable jobs in their own communities. We are focussed on transforming job seekers into job givers and ending the cycle of dependency on social grants.

5. Institutions

The ANC's 52nd National Conference in 2007 resolved, among other things, that the government should establish an appropriate institution with the resources and authority to drive and coordinate an integrated programme of rural development , land reform and agrarian change. The policy and legislation for the envisaged Rural Development Agency is receiving increasing attention and shall be finalised by May 2012.

To address the institutional weaknesses in land management policy and legislation alluded to earlier, there is a need for a Land Management Institution that will:

  • be autonomous, but not independent and characterised by accountability, transparency and professionalism;
  • have the power to; subpoena, inquire on own volition or at the instance of interested parties, to verify/validate title deeds, demand declaration of landholdings and grant amnesty and prosecute;
  • Ensure that state land will not be disposed of, but rather leased.

Policy and legislative environment

1. Green Paper
Over the past few months the Department has been focusing on the development of a Green Paper on Agrarian Transformation, Rural development and Land reform which will articulate and elaborate on some of the measures mentioned above, its intended to culminate in a new land policy framework and an 'omnibus of legislation' which should be consolidation of all land-related laws. The Green Paper will soon be presented to Cabinet for consideration; and, the plan is to submit it to Parliament by the end of April, 2010.

In the Green Paper we will propose that for South Africa to achieve equitable access and sustainable land use, the current Land Tenure System must be overhauled, in this regard we propose a Three-Tier Land Tenure System, namely:

  • State land: under leasehold;
  • Private land: under freehold with limited extent; and
  • Foreign-ownership with precarious tenure. linked to productivity and partnership models with South African citizens

The above system will be based on a categorisation model informed by land use needs at the level of household, small holder and commercial farming.

2. Land Tenure Security Bill

While we are in the process of developing legislation linked to the green paper process, it is imperative that we find immediate mechanisms to respond to the plight of farm workers and farm dwellers as was enjoined by the President during the State of the Nation Address last year, we will introduce the Land Tenure Security Bill (2010), which will repeal the Extension of Security of Tenure Act as well as the Labour Tenants Act, and will be informed by the following objectives:

  • Protecting of relative rights for farm workers;
  • Strengthen to rights of farm dwellers;
  • Enhancing food security through sustained production discipline.

The people of South Africa entrusted us with the mandate of rural development and land reform, they entrusted us with their futures! As a responsive and responsible government, we will implement policy that will create a better life for all. We will work together, and will achieve these successes together.

The President enjoined us to make this the year of action, we have ensured that the Department is adequately orientated and capacitated to give effect to this and must therefore adhere to the President's call! The time for rural development is now and not tomorrow! This is the time for rural people to experience the desired change that we have all talked about. We are all the agents of that change.


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