Land reform ‘must benefit Khoi, San’


20 June 2013

The descendants of South Africa’s Khoi and San communities must benefit from the country’s land reform programme if the legacy of the 1913 Natives Land Act is to be reversed, says Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.

Nkwinti was addressing a business briefing in Cape Town on Thursday to coincide with the centenary of the passing of the Act by the Union Parliament on 19 June 2013.

The notorious law laid the groundwork for the apartheid policy of racial segregation in South Africa.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said the Khoi and San people were the first lines of defending the land when South Africa was invaded by colonialists.

“We could not, as a democratic government, understanding our history, be happy and satisfied when some of us were not catered for, and I think it was not a deliberate exclusion, but it was more of a systematic exclusion,” the minister said.

“The Khoi and San were left out of the process even though they were the first to be dispossessed of their ancestral land – before the notorious 1913 Native Land Act was passed – so now is time for us to go back and go beyond the cut-off date of 1913,” he said.

Asked how the government aimed to redress the Khoi and San, Nkwinti said his department would be setting up a national reference group, with five representatives from each province, who would meet with his department regularly.

“We’ve agreed that each province should nominate five representatives, that makes 45 in total, so that we will then discuss in terms of the Constitution and the 1913 cut-off date on how do we come up with a set of proposals to government which will then open up for the Khoi and San to make their own claim.

“This work has already started,” he said.


Land reform challenges


Also addressing Thursday’s breakfast, former Land Affairs director-general Gilindwe Mayende said South Africa had redistributed “something in the vicinity of 8-million hectares” of land in the space of 18 years.

“However, there are quite a number of challenges that seem to continue to bedevil the programme in its entirety,” Mayende said.

“We are still struggling to come up with an integrated approach where we don’t only talk of transferring land, but transferring land as well as knowing how to access the market, or a totality of package to beneficiaries … that is why we’ve seen many projects not succeeding and which now need to be recapitalised.”

Mayende said another challenge was that the land reform programme was not linked dynamically to agrarian transformation and in the broader sense to rural development.

Asked if the country would follow the Zimbabwean “land invasion” model, Deputy Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Lechesa Tsenoli said: “We’ve not been hearing enough from every stakeholder … especially the farmers and property owners, who are our critical stakeholders in helping us avoid the Zimbabwean land invasion situation, so we would like to address them urgently,” he said.