Zuma raises thorny issue of tribal land
President Jacob Zuma asks traditional leaders‚ as custodians of tribal land‚ to improve farming of under-utilised land to ensure food security. He also asked them to work with communities on land claims instead of lodging competing claims.
Addressing the annual opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders at Parliament‚ Zuma said the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform is finalising business plans for all the 44 districts in the country where agricultural parks - known as Agri-Parks - will be established.
One of the strategic objectives of the parks is to bring under-utilised land‚ especially in Communal Areas‚ into full production within three years and expand irrigated agriculture.
Government has also developed an Agricultural Policy Action Plan under which food security at household level should be achieved through the utilisation of productive one million hectares of the communal land for food production.
“We have noted that some of the productive communal land under traditional councils remains inadequately utilised.
“I urge traditional leaders to encourage communities to plough and till the productive land so that they can produce healthy food for their families and reduce the levels of food insecurity and poverty that are so prevalent.”
Commenting on land reform‚ Zuma reiterated his message from last year that traditional leaders should join their efforts in claiming land on behalf of the communities they lead that was taken away‚ rather than lodging competing claims.
“I have been informed that some work in this regard has started‚ championed by the National House of Traditional Leaders.
“I strongly believe that access to land and security of land tenure are key to development‚ especially agricultural development…I urge traditional leaders to thoughtfully and actively engage with the matter of land reform on behalf of the communities they lead.
“I am raising this as we can talk about agriculture and food security but without access to land‚ our people cannot plough and feed themselves or contribute to economic growth.”