South Africa: Beneficiaries urged to use land productively

South Africa: Beneficiaries urged to use land productively
Land reform is a failure - Image - Die Vryburger
Rural Development and Land Reform Deputy Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini has urged beneficiaries of land reform to use the land that has been handed over to them productively in order to free themselves from the shackles of poverty.Speaking at a Land Summit in Mpumalanga on Thursday, the Deputy Minister said the department had come up with a project of taking unused land back from land reform beneficiaries as part of a drive to have land put to productive use.

The Deputy Minister said some farms in Mpumalanga have been left unused and that instead of farming on the claimed land parcels, long, unwanted grass was growing in farms.

“We have come up with many programs [including farm recapitalisation] to make sure that land is being used…But let us warn you that we are going to send a team to all the farms [handed over as part of land reform] and [check] if land is being used and if not, we will issue a notice and if you still don’t use the land or do not say anything, we will take back that farm or land,” the Deputy Minister said.

The Deputy Minister said Mpumalanga residents should not live on the jaws of poverty in a province where 4 376 land claims have been processed out of an overall 6 637 land reform claims.

Addressing more than 2 000 community members and farmers attending the provincial Land Summit in Mbombela, the Deputy Minister said despite these claims being processed, land remained unused.

“You in Mpumalanga, from the land we have transferred, [you should] be rich. I was looking forward to seeing people in suits [at the summit]…So the question is, where is the land we gave you and what are you doing with the land? As the department, from Mpumalanga we received 6 637 claims and we managed to settle …4 376 claims and only 2 261 claims are left to be settled.”

Mpumalanga MEC for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Affairs, Vusi Shongwe, said in trying to help farmers and also help young people get jobs, the department has teamed up with a Russian company to build a tracker assembling plant in the area.

He said that to ensure that government buys affordable and reliable tractors, Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza convinced the company to invest in the province during his recent visit to Russia.

The company, the MEC said, will build two tractors assembly plants in the province.

“That will help to employ our young people, hence, we encourage them to study engineering. Our farmers and the department will be able to buy reliable tractors at a lesser price without shipping costs,” MEC Shongwe said.

He said, meanwhile, that one of the reasons land was not being used productively was because beneficiaries preferred to sell or lease the farms instead of farming on the land parcels.

The Land Summit, which will end on Friday, will seek to find solutions on how land that has been handed over to black people can be better used to fight poverty and hunger.

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