Ever since its inception, the land reform programme has been impactful in breaking down the patterns of land ownership and since its inception, government has managed to acquire five million hectares of land.

This, according to Deputy President David Mabuza when responding to oral questions in the National Council of Provinces, has benefitted hundreds of thousands of people.

The Deputy President said over the years, various policy instruments have been employed to accelerate land reform for agriculture, human settlements and economic development in general.

“We are advised by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development that since the inception of the land reform programme, government has acquired over five million hectares of land through the land redistribution programme, from over 5 500 projects that benefited hundreds of thousands of people.

“The strategic acquisition of land by government over time has been crucial to government’s ability to make more land available for agricultural production,” he said.

DA MP from the Western Cape Cathlene Labuschagne had asked the Deputy President whether government’s land reform programme is effective taking into consideration the agricultural support, transfer of ownership and title deeds, amongst other things.

The Deputy President said beyond the narrow lens of agriculture, it should be appreciated that more people now have houses and title deeds on the land they own.

He said across the country, communities whose land was taken away have successfully reclaimed the land of their ancestors, erasing the sad and dehumanising experience and indignity of forced removals and dispossession.

“While challenges remain, our land reform programme has been impactful and effective in breaking down barriers to land access and ownership in post-apartheid South Africa.

“More than any other time in our history, more people have had access to land that caters for the expansion of human settlements in urban and peri-urban areas.

“More land has been acquired and redistributed to cater for industrial development, including the targeted land for Special Economic Zones and Industrial Parks in many parts of the country,” he said.

Progress on the release of state-owned land

The Deputy President said, meanwhile, that the process to release more state-owned land to aspirant farmers for long-term leases is currently in progress.

“To date, government has acquired over 2.2 million hectares of land which constitute over 1 800 farms.

“Government has committed to releasing state owned land for agriculture and development.

“The lease agreements go up to 30 years, and the lessees have options to buy the farms.

“Based on meeting performance and applicable policy considerations, there is no reason why ownership of these farms would not be transferred to those beneficiaries who would have demonstrated the productive and efficient use of allocated land.”

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