Land minister: No nationalisation

2010-03-24 18:07

Cape Town - Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti on Wednesday dismissed suggestions government intends to nationalise land in its reform programme.

Speaking in the National Assembly during the debate on his budget vote, Nkwinti said the green paper on agrarian transformation, rural development, and land reform simply proposed the current land tenure system be "overhauled".

A three-tier system was being proposed - 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.

This system would be based on a "categorisation model" informed by land use needs at the levels of household, smallholder, and commercial farming.

"So, we have not spoken at all about any nationalisation of land. So let's kill that debate, it's not there," Nkwinti said.

Land 'a national asset'

The green paper would be submitted to Cabinet soon and was expected to be submitted to Parliament by the end of April.

He said national sovereignty was 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," Nkwinti said.

"That is where the debate about agrarian change, land reform, and rural development should, appropriately, begin."

Without that fundamental assumption, talk of land reform and food security was superfluous, he said.

"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," he said.

Land reform programme unsuccessful

Nkwinti acknowledged that the land reform programmes implemented to date had not been sustainable and had not provided the anticipated benefits to the recipients of the programme.

To date, about six million hectares of land had been transferred through restitution and redistribution and much of this land was not productive and had not created any economic benefit for many of the owners.

"There has been an over emphasis on hectares at the expense of development and food security," he said.

This had contributed to declining productivity on farms, less employment in the agricultural sector, and deepening poverty in the countryside.