In response to the DA exposé that citizens living on 10.5 million hectares of land in rural areas still live on property owned by apartheid-era institutions, the spokesperson for the Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, Thoko Didiza, confirmed that, nearly 30 years into democracy, the ANC government emulates the apartheid government by barring citizens in rural areas from owning their land.
After the DA announced that we will be laying a historic charge with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) against the ANC government for its failure to provide secure tenure and title to rural citizens, Didiza’s spokesperson confirmed that land still technically owned by the apartheid state “could not be legally distributed by issuing title deeds to rural communities because it was land destined to be owned by communities, not individuals.”
This statement is an admission that the ANC flagrantly violates the fundamental rights of rural communities to own their property, as stipulated in section 25 of the Constitution.
There is no provision anywhere in the Constitution that provides for any individual to be barred from owning property. In fact, section 25 – the property clause – makes it clear that “no one may be deprived of property” and that “a person or community whose tenure of land is legally insecure as a result of past racially discriminatory laws” is entitled to “tenure which is legally secure or to comparable redress.”
The ANC’s treatment of people in rural areas as second-class citizens by banning individuals from owning their land, violates these provisions of our Constitution, as well as the right to equality.
To make matters worse, Didiza’s office confirmed that land remained registered in the name of the apartheid state “because no legislation currently existed to transfer land held in trusts by the government to rural communities.” This too is nothing less than an admission of outright failure by the ANC to enact legislation to provide tenure security and ownership rights to rural citizens.
The comments from Minister Didiza confirms the urgency of the DA’s fight to provide dignity, justice and ownership rights to rural South Africans:
- DA leader John Steenhuisen will next week lead a senior delegation to the SAHRC to submit a complaint over the way in which the human rights of citizens are violated when they are barred from owning the land they have worked for generations, as has now been confirmed by Didiza.
- Since the ANC refuses to adopt new legislation that provides for rural citizens to own their land, as demanded by section 25(6) of the Constitution, the DA will shortly introduce the Land Justice Bill to Parliament that will provide private title and tenure security to all who want it.
The DA’s quest to provide secure tenure and private property rights to the estimated 16 million citizens living on trust land would be the single greatest breakthrough for land reform in our democratic history. It will right a historical wrong, increase food production at a time of spiralling food costs, and economically and socially empower some of the poorest people in our country – all without the need to plunge our country into chaos through expropriation without compensation.