The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA Member of the Portfolio Committee of Rural Development and Land Reform, Ken Roberston MP, during the Budget Vote on Rural Development and Land Reform.
Today I will paint a picture of millions of South Africans who look at land as the only remaining answer to addressing long-term indignities and economic isolation.
One of the hardest realities for millions of South Africans to face is the realisation that the ANC government will not succeed in addressing land reform issues despite having the necessary legislation in place to do it.
To give examples:
The thousands of land claims that were submitted between the 2014 to 2018 claim extension period, have been put on hold because the extension was deemed unconstitutional.
Somhlolo Trust in Mpumalanga, is restituted land with going business concerns, but the beneficiaries have not received one cent. They have also not received title deeds and have no say regarding the finances on this property.
Can you imagine the feeling of utter frustration?
In the Eastern Cape, near Tsitsikama, was a thriving commercial hydroponic tomato farm called Cornucopia that was mostly under tunnel, but now has completely collapsed. This farm was purchased for a workers trust consisting of the employees of the farm. Now, the farm stands desolate. The 18 tunnels which provided for the hydroponics, stands weather-beaten and empty.
We cannot point fingers at the beneficiaries because government involvement and mentorship required to assist emerging farmers was non-existent and the Liphuma langa Development Trust was set on the inevitable course of failure.
It is these blunders that currently disadvantage our rural communities.
Had we addressed mentorship shortfalls on land reform and given the beneficiaries ownership of their land through unconditional title deeds, emerging farmers or beneficiaries would be so much closer to participating in the economy.
I will ask the question? If state mentorship is stagnant and non-effective and those who have the knowledge and experience are being ostracised, who exactly is going to mentor emerging farmers and beneficiaries of land reform?
When the DA is in national government, we will allocate additional funding for the purposes of research and development and that will fast track the finalisation of claims.
We will ensure that the policy is effectively implemented.
We will increase the budget for mentorship programs so to drastically improve the chances of success for emerging farmers.
We will approach existing stakeholders to assist and offer business models that speak to the development of poor South Africans.
The DA is the only party that truly wants the poor to own their own property and that will ensure that the poor and destitute will have access to prosperous participation in the economy.