Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson on agriculture and rural development Jacques Smalle has slammed the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, saying “the people of Limpopo cannot rely on the department to expedite and effectively manage land reform in Limpopo”.
In a statement. Smalle said that 218 land reform farms were leased to beneficiaries, while 609 state-owned farms were not being leased and that rental income in the amount of only R252,391 was collected.
Smalle was told that “74% of state-owned land reform farms in Limpopo are lying dormant” after the party submitted a series of questions regarding land reform and agricultural production to Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza.
Didiza responded to the DA by claiming that some farms were still in the process of being allocated to lessees and that some previously allocated farms were in the process of being allocated.
Smalle said that Minister Didiza and her department had failed to do their duties by investigating the challenges in each province and that “the content clearly lacks provincial-specific content”.
“The failure by the Limpopo department of agriculture to manage and expedite land reform in accordance with constitutional and statutory promises will have catastrophic effects on the production of agriculture and food security in the province,” he said.
“As at 1 October 2019, Limpopo province still has 1,501 outstanding land claims and there is no indication as to when these will be finalised,” he said. In contrast to the dire situation in Limpopo, the DA-run Western Cape had managed to lease out 73% of land reform farms to beneficiaries,” he said.
He further said that the DA would take action in writing to Nandi Ndalane, the MEC for agriculture and rural development, to request information regarding the 609 “dormant farms” under her care.
“It is clear that the constitution is not the barrier to successful land reform but rather [it is] the stubborn unwillingness of the ANC-led government to allocate title deeds to beneficiaries in order to keep them [as] lifelong tenants. In contrast if land is owned with title, capital funding is readily available for improved agricultural production and increased opportunities for job creation, ” Smalle said in the statement.
Smalle added that “the DA wants farmers to own their land with title, to prosper and to contribute to food production that will enhance food security for all our citizens”.