Thursday, 19 December 2019

Cape Town: Cabinet has tasked government departments to implement action plans for the recommendations contained in the Report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture.

This was revealed on Thursday by Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza at a media briefing in Tshwane.

The advisory panel report, which contained 73 recommendations, was handed to Cabinet in July 2019 for consideration.

Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform — led by Deputy President David Mabuza — all affected departments were asked to study the recommendations relating to their respective portfolios and respond accordingly.

Government this week announced that Cabinet had since endorsed and supported 60 of the recommendations. Only nine were not approved and three were noted.

“In the examination of the report, a number of departments noted that some of the issues raised or reflected upon by the advisory panel were matters that are already being addressed,” said Didiza.

She said the recommendations also made proposals on policy and legislation gaps, such as a policy on land tenure that will address communal and traditional land tenure in South Africa.

“Other recommendations spoke to programmatic interventions that are required to address matters including coordination amongst spheres of government,” Didiza said.

Most of the recommendations were accepted and government will address them.

The Minister said there were recommendations that were not accepted.

“[This was] not because the issues raised were not important, but such recommendations required further engagement, which are of a policy nature and as such, particular processes will need to be undertaken to arrive at the policy and legislative system,” she said.

Agrarian reform

One such recommendation was that land reform must be informed by an agreed vision for agrarian reform.

Didiza said government was of the view that the White Paper on Land Policy was still adequate in its outlook.

“It covers a broad land administration framework, as well as defining approaches for land reform to address unequal land ownership patterns in our country,” she said.

Despite broadly supporting the panel’s proposal for significant measures to unlock urban State land for affordable housing and creation of more inclusive towns and cities, government said the challenge was in certain mechanisms proposed as intervention.

Government has also rejected the proposals for a review of the Office of the Valuer-General and the creation of a Land Reform Fund.

“The view of government is that currently there may not be merit on setting up such a fund. The optimum and judicious use of current budget allocation can still address the resources required for land reform,” Didiza said.

Regarding the recommendation for the establishment of a Land and Agrarian Reform Agency, Didiza said this was rejected by government based on the view that the new configuration of the department, which now combines the Departments of Agriculture and Land Reform, ought to address the concerns that necessitated the recommendation.

Didiza said government has also not seen the need for a Land Tax Inquiry, as the Minister of Finance has already concluded a tax inquiry that also included land tax, and this has been incorporated in the property rates legislation as well as capital gains tax.

In its discussion, Cabinet noted that some of the recommendations may require further work, Didiza said. This included the panel recommending an in-depth assessment of the conditions for the application of land ceilings. – SAnews.gov.za