Deputy president David Mabuza told the National Assembly in Parliament on Thursday afternoon that the committee on land reform, which he chairs, was fundamentally opposed to land reform that would leave farms derelict and unproductive.
Mabuza was replying orally to questions in the National Assembly. His remarks come as opposition parties prepare to contest Parliament’s decision to adopt a report on the need to amend Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
The original question came from African National Congress MP Machwene Semenya, who asked Mabuza to explain the activities and achievements of government, through the National Food and Nutritional Security Coordinating Committee, in food security programmes.
Mabuza said South Africans should not be allowed to forget that the dispossession of black people during apartheid led to economic imbalances that still persist today, because landlessness and disproportionate exclusion from the formal agriculture sector was not adequately addressed.
"This land reform process, at its centre, aims to address historical imbalances.
"We acknowledge this. However, as a country, we have chosen to reconcile and build one nation. We recognise the diversity of our people. Going forward, we must respect the tenets enshrined in the Constitution," said Mabuza.
In a supplementary question, Democratic Alliance MP Peter Robertson said that many well-intended policies of the ANC became fodder for plunderers, and challenged the deputy president to convince him that land reform wouldn't be the same, with the added casualty of food security.
"While you were the premier of Mpumalanga, R30m was misappropriated from a hospital. Given the failure rate of land reform initiatives that have taken place so far, what plans do you have to protect land reform objectives and safeguard food security?" Robertson asked.
ANC MP Justice Nguni called for a point of order, urging National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to strike the supplementary question, as it was "a new question" and unrelated to the original one. Mbete affirmed the question's validity and asked Mabuza to answer.
"As government we have restored land. However, claimants come as groups and not individuals. That results in the land being claimed becoming unproductive. We should close gaps to ensure that those who are given land are empowered to till it," Mabuza said, explaining reform challenges.
Mabuza said while claims should be assessed on a case by case basis, it is important to give as much support as possible to farm beneficiaries to prevent farms from lying fallow. He said the committee has measures to support this.
"The committee of coordinating land reform that I chair [is] looking at unlocking barriers to land access and addressing unproductive land that has been redistributed. We are looking at regional support centres comprised of all spheres of government," said Mabuza.
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