DA, minister at odds over land reform
Cape Town - If aspects of the Green Paper on land reform are unconstitutional, then change the Constitution, says Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
Nkwinti along with his deputy minister Thembelani Nxesi and director general Mdu Shabane presented to Parliament's portfolio committee on rural affairs and land reform on Tuesday on the Green Paper on land reform.
Nkwinti replied to a question by Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Lindiwe Mazibuko about the constitutionality of the land valuer general and the land management commission.
He said: "Constitutions are tools that are created to help society move in particular directions. When society gets stuck as it moves forward we must have the courage to review the Constitution and, if needs be, amend it accordingly.
"So if the honourable members are suggesting that there are aspects of the green paper which border on unconstitutional we will ask cabinet to change the Constitution if we need to in order to achieve the objectives we want to achieve as a country."
The office of the land valuer-general and the land management commission are proposals in the green paper to improve the "trajectory of land reform".
In terms of SA's law a two-thirds majority of Parliament has to approve any change to the Constitution.
The green paper said the land management commission would be autonomous but not independent of the department.
It would have advisory, co-ordination, regulatory, and auditing functions.
The commission would also have the powers to subpoena, enquire about any land question, verify, or invalidate individual or corporate title deeds, grant amnesty or initiate prosecution, and seize or confiscate land gotten through fraudulent means.
The land-valuer-general would be a statutory office responsible for "fair and consistent land values for rating and taxing purposes".
It would also determine financial compensation in cases of land expropriation, under the Expropriation Act or any other policy or legislation, in compliance with the Constitution.
Nkwinti also admitted that the proposals on land reform were based on ideology rather than on patterns of ownership.
In reply to another question by Mazibuko, Nkwinti said that none of the department's internal challenges were addressed in the green paper as "there were too many".
Later Mzibuko said Nkwinti should withdraw the green paper, go back to the drawing board and create a document that has been properly researched and is in line with the values of the Constitution.
"In its current form, the green paper offers no vision of how to redress the inequities bequeathed by apartheid in a coherent and sustainable way," Mazibuko said.
The original target for land reform was to have at least 30% of the country's arable farms in the hands of previously disadvantaged people.
However, earlier this year Nkwinti said this target would not be met.