Honourable Leader of the Official Opposition in absentia,
Honourable Members of this House.
The IFP would like to commend the Hon Speaker for establishing the Ad Hoc Committee on Land Restitution Complaints and Other Related Matters, which among other things is responsible for working with other stakeholders in investigating bottlenecks in issues relating to land claims in the province. We also thank the Chairperson for presenting the Report. While we accept the Report as presented, we don’t support some of the things the Land Claims Commission and DALRAD are doing to the people. Without any fear or favour, the Land Claims Commission and DALRAD have let us down as a country and as a Province of KwaZulu-Natal as they have submitted half-baked reports.
The issue of land is a sensitive matter and we need to be careful, as the land belongs to the Ingonyama Trust and it has become clear that the land has been taken away from Amakhosi and is being redistributed to the so-called “Trusts”.
On land issues, the IFP has always felt that we need a solution that will be in the best interests of our people. Certain political parties, including the ruling party, have used the term ‘land expropriation without compensation’ as a campaigning strategy, simply because it serves as an essential tool for manipulating people’s feelings about past injustices. The term is also used as a justification of government failures to provide employment opportunities. The IFP has always advocated for a needs-based approach when talking about land reform.
We have also advocated for an approach that does not isolate traditional leaders in the conversation. It is common knowledge that the customary practice amongst our people when it comes to land related issues was to give traditional leaders a trusteeship role. In turn, traditional leaders would administer the land to the benefit of those who reside or do business within that community. We therefore do not see anything wrong about applying the same approach in modern day societies. Such an approach will eliminate the threat posed by government officials who seek to expropriate land for themselves under the guise of land reform. Perhaps there is no other incident that could provide a better answer to this than the Mathulini land reform case in 2016/17 in which the matter was referred to the Minister’s Office but, still no resolution has been established on the matter.
In a nutshell, this case involves a settlement agreement that was signed by Inkosi Luthuli representing the Mathulini Community on 17 December 2010. For many people, it remains strange that the Regional Commission of Land Reform, formerly known as Land Affairs and the Department of Rural Development, were instrumental in the establishment of the Communal Property Association (CPA). Thus, the process of the CPA registration began in February 2012, after the Department of Rural Development – specifically the Director-General – advised the Chief Land Claims Commissioner that an ideal land holding entity that is preferred in the matter is the CPA. People were told that this was to ensure that in an event of conflicts amongst the communities, the Department would be able to intervene.
The constitution of the CPA provided a framework of how disputes, should they arise, would be dealt with by the Director-General of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. We believe that this was an attempt to take control of the Mathulini Land in order to ensure that leaders and friends of the ruling party benefited from the land.
One of the reasons for this is the fact that there has been major interference with the workings and functionality of the CPA by Land Affairs and the stalling of the finalisation of phase 2 and 3 of the settlement agreement. Land Affairs has gone as far as removing legally appointed committee members of the CPA and replacing them with their own members of the so-called “Concerned Group”. This is a team that has disregarded court orders in an attempt to loot money and land belonging to the Mathulini Community. Many times, the Concerned Group and Land Affairs have attempted to seize power, notwithstanding the fact that the Land Claims Court had declared their role in the CPA as being unconstitutional and invalid. To push their agenda, they have instituted legal proceedings against the Mathulini Community and they have lost each and every case. This includes all 16 cases that have been won by the Mathulini Community.
I hope the Speaker will allow me to conclude my speech shortly.
We find it unfair that the Mathulini Community has lost about R11 million on legal fees due to dubious court cases, given that the Mathulini Community has been forced to spend its own money, which resulted in a situation whereby the beneficiaries did not get their dividends. Who is going to compensate these poor people and how much state resources have been used by the government to steal the land that belongs to Mathulini? I am reminded of the Department of COGTA in KwaZulu-Natal, which has spent R7.4 million in a legal battle with Amakhosi over leadership disputes during the past seven years, instead of assisting them. This was the response from the former MEC for COGTA, Sipho Hlomuka, to a Parliamentary Question I submitted last year.
The IFP considers the continued applications by Land Affairs and the Concerned Group led by General Radebe, to be wasteful expenditure of state resources. We wonder why the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government has decided to keep quiet on this matter, instead of punishing those involved in these shenanigans. In 2012, the Mathulini land was worth R280 million but after the subsequent delays that amounted to about ten years, the state is going to spend on phase two and three alone, the amount of about R472 million. This means that in this period, the land value has doubled. Should the state conclude this in time, instead of making dubious claims, it would have spent only R280 million. And when I calculate phase one, two and three now, the total costs would be over R500 million. That means R220 million of state money has been wasted by Land Affairs and the Concerned Group, excluding all their legal fees.
One cannot be so naïve not to see that there are personal and political reasons why the government has not done anything about this matter. I would not be surprised if the Oribi Gorge Private Game Reserve matter, which involves disputes between Inkosi Chiliza, Inkosi Ndwalane, a mine and the community is given preferential treatment.
In addition, the allegations of abuse and forced evictions directed at farm dwellers by certain farmers must also be investigated by the authorities. This is tantamount to human rights violations. Sibonga abantu basoThukela ngoba i-IFP ibhaxabule iqembu elibusayo ngo 3-1 okhethweni lokuchibiyela phezu kokuba kwakuthengwe amakhansela ukuguqisa i-IFP. Ilele ngophondo eqenjini elibusayo.
I thank you!