Mabuza targets communal land for redistribution
Deputy President David Mabuza says the government wants to transfer communal land from traditional leaders to communities who occupy it.
Mabuza was answering MPs' questions in the National Assembly when he said the Communal Land Tenure Bill‚ which was tabled last year and is out for public comment‚ will make a provision for the transfer of ownership of communal land to communities that occupy such land.
The Bill further provides for the transfer of ownership of residential portions that are currently occupied by community members to such community members‚ he said.
"In other words‚ communities will have title deeds for their communal land and community members will have title deeds for their residential or business portions.
"Of course there are different views on this matter‚ and we encourage that mature engagement continues in a manner that builds our country in order to produce the necessary cohesion. The bottom line is that the lands belongs to the people‚" said Mabuza.
His comments came about 10 days after former president Kgalema Motlanthe reportedly told an ANC land summit that the ANC-led government should not be held to ransom by traditional leaders acting as “village tinpot dictators” and lay claim to land that doesn’t even belong to them.
City Press reported that Motlanthe had warned the ANC that any signs of the governing party being strong-armed by traditional leaders would come back to haunt it at the polls. Traditional leaders‚ especially Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini‚ have been resisting the calls to transfer land to the state for redistribution.
Mabuza‚ appearing for his third National Assembly question and answer session‚ cited Section 25.6 of the Constitution as making provision that a person or a community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws or practices was entitled to the extent provided for by an act of parliament either to tenure which is legally secure of comparative redress.
"This security of tenure flows from sometimes mistaken views that land under the traditional leadership is owned by traditional leaders which is a false view‚" said Mabuza.
He added: "In terms of customs‚ it is the people who own the land. Traditional leaders are only custodians of the people's land. Because of these perceptions and at times conflicting views on who has a right of ownership of such land between traditional leaders and ordinary people‚ the government then is seeking to address this issue in a manner that seek certainty and removes any possibility of unwarranted conflicts and distortions.”
He said in this regard the department of land reform had published the Communal Land Tenure Bill for public comment and the department was still considering those comments.
Mabuza also sought to explain the national government's decision to place the North West provincial government under its administration. He said a decision to intervene was taken based on the material conditions on the ground and because service delivery was hugely affected.
"I am saying the progressive intervention that was done by the government was informed by the material conditions on the ground. Firstly the government took a decision to send the military to go and assist in the hospitals‚ that was the first sign that there was a problem in the department of health‚” he said.
He explained that a team was sent to look at the situation‚ and it came back with a few recommendations. Government took a decision to place the department of health under Section 100 (1) (B) and then the government took a decision to place a certain number of departments under (the same section) and others invoking a different section.
"The national government had to intervene to bring an end to this untenable situation."
Mabuza sought to dismiss a suggestion from the Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen that the intervention in the North West had to do with the ANC's own internal factional battles.
Steenhuisen cited the Auditor-General's local government report‚ published last week‚ saying it showed that the Free State was far worse than North West‚ and asked why no action had been taken in the Free State.
The deputy president said while many views were presented regarding the North West‚ the bottom line was that the national government should get close to provinces and make sure there is a way to get early warning systems when things do not go right.