South Africa Government

05/25/2023 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 05/26/2023 05:50

Deputy President Paul Mashatile: Oral replies to questions in the National Assembly

On Government progress in relation to land reform

Honourable Speaker,

Next month will mark 110 years since the enactment of the 1913 Natives Land Act. It is now known that the 1913 Land Act resulted in people being removed from productive land and herded into native reserves and conditions of squalor.

We are therefore duty-bound to reverse the injustice of land dispossession; hence, land reform remains one of the foremost policy interventions in realising our social transformation agenda.

Equally, embarking on land reform is to ensure economic growth and inclusion, in all sectors of the economy, particularly the entire agriculture and agro-processing value chain, thus sustainable food security.

Honourable Speaker,

We are the first to acknowledge that the pace of land reform has been slow. In line with section 25 of the Constitution, which instructs us amongst others, to take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to foster conditions which enable citizens to gain access to land on an equitable basis.

The National Assembly has passed the Expropriation Bill which is currently under consideration by the National Council of Provinces.
However, Government has made the following interventions:

  • 700 000 hectares of state land were identified for redistribution, and advertisements were circulated to the public in October 2020.
  • A total of 659 602 hectares of land were considered and approved for allocation which translates to 1 459 farms.
  • 245 000 hectares of land that had been acquired, and allocated to targeted beneficiaries which include 107 000 hectares to women, 85 000 hectares to youth and 489 hectares to people living with disabilities.
  • 25 000 hectares of the acquired land has been allocated for tenure reform purposes.
  • We have recruited over 4 500 Assistant Agricultural Practitioners to provide technical support to farmers.

Honourable Speaker,

As the Government, we continue to provide support to beneficiaries of land redistribution through financing, training, market access, irrigation, and the provision of seeds, fertiliser, and equipment, all of which contribute to the sustainability of emerging agricultural enterprises.

Last week, we had an opportunity to engage directly with young and emerging farmers at Cedara College of Agriculture in Pietermaritzburg. During this meeting, there was a strong commitment from all role players including farmers, to work together in building sustainable agricultural operations, creating jobs and ending poverty.

Together with the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal province and other members of the Executive have made a commitment to support Cedara College and other centres of excellence.

Honourable Speaker,

The Government is indeed prioritising requisite support mechanisms for emerging farmers. In this regard, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has put in place a number of programmes to address both financial and technical support to emerging farmers.

Amongst others, these include:

  • The Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme and Ilima/Letsema, which is aimed at resourcing and equipping producers towards increased food production and other value chain activities;
  • The Land Development Support Programme, which supports Land Reform acquired farms with infrastructure, farm machinery and equipment, production development/inputs, and provision of technical support including mentorship;
  • The Blended Finance Scheme which supports commercialisation;
  • The South African Good Agricultural Practices Certification Programme, which assists farmers to meet minimum food safety and quality requirements, and thus ease access to the market;
  • Collaboration with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation for the implementation of the Farmer Field Schools. Both these interventions enhance the provision of extension services for small-scale farmers towards attaining sustainable food production and market access.

Honourable Speaker,

As part of comprehensive farmer support, the Government will continue to implement steps to capacitate producers with requisite skills and mentorship programmes based on their needs at farm level. This capacity building assists farmers to optimise both production and marketing operations.

These interventions, including targeted policy instruments, seeks to provide clear deliverables that are aimed at accelerating land reform and agricultural production, directly contributing to South Africa's food security, and growing our productive outputs.

I thank you!

On stabilising Coalition Governments
Honourable Speaker,

Section 154 of the Constitution enjoins us to support and strengthen the capacity of municipalities to manage their own affairs, to exercise their powers and to perform their functions.

Through the Inter-Ministerial Committee that I have the honour to Chair, we are supporting Municipalities to accelerate service delivery. The IMC also serves as a catalyst to build financially resilient and stable Municipalities by among others focussing on the following:

  • Identify service delivery hotspots for intervention as we have been doing.
  • Ensure alignment of plans, including infrastructure development plans and operations with national, provincial and district in line with the District Development Model.

Honourable Speaker,

The matter of coalition governments is important and requires urgent attention and our collective wisdom.

I have responded to a similar question in the National Council of Provinces about coalition governments, and a need to convene a national dialogue on coalitions, and more specifically on reasons why municipalities are dysfunctional due to the absence of a regulatory framework guiding coalitions.

Honourable Speaker,

In response to the Chief Whip of the opposition party, I acknowledge the intention by the honourable member to introduce the Private Member's Bill on coalition governments.

To begin with, I would like to reiterate that SALGA did develop a framework for coalition governments. We did observe in our previous response that the existing framework has weaknesses, and as a result, we committed to convene a dialogue to discuss and develop a coherent coalition framework.

Before stating whether we support the bill or not I would like to outline principles that should serve as the foundation for a coalition between and with any political party in South Africa;

  • Firstly, putting the people first by making them the tenants of our value system, in the formation of governments. In the spirit of Batho Pele, the measurement of the performance of coalitions must be about what we have done to improve the lives of the people for the better.
  • Second, coalition governments must be committed to combating poverty and deprivation as well as building a growing and inclusive economy and must report regularly, by providing evidence on poverty reduction, growing the economy, and including the majority in the mainstream economy.
  • Third, coalition governments must contribute toward building a prosperous society in which people have access to land for productive purposes and are meaningfully participating in the economy.
  • Fourth, coalition governments must be committed to building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous society.
  • Fifth, a coalition government should be bound together by a commitment to Good Governance, with no tolerance for corruption!
  • Sixth, the party that has won the largest votes should be allowed to lead the coalition and the executive positions should be allocated proportional to the votes obtained by the coalition partners.

The above-mentioned principles will constitute the basis of the discussions at the national dialogue on coalition governments that we are going to convene in the next two months.

Honourable Speaker,

Working with the Minister of COGTA we will be inviting all political parties represented in Parliament to the dialogue on the principles of coalition governments across all spheres of Government while we are urgently attending to the issue of dysfunctional municipalities as a result of the current loosely arranged coalition governments.

All political parties are invited to start depositing inputs and views to the technical committee led by The Presidency and COGTA to help develop the framework for coalition governments which will subsequently lead to the development of legislation.

We want to build consensus because if we don't work together as political parties, we will fail our people, and our economy will collapse.

The time for the unity of the country is now!

I thank you!

On South Africa's role in supporting peace missions in South Sudan

Honourable Speaker,

The mandate of the Special Envoy to South Sudan differs with that of South Africa's ambassador in that the latter deals with normal bilateral relations between the two countries. The Special Envoy on the other hand is tasked with assisting in the search for durable peace in South Sudan.

The immediate task of the Special Envoy is to help the parties to the Transitional Government of National Unity in South Sudan with the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS).

For a brief background, South Sudan became an independent Republic on 9 July 2011 following a referendum seven months earlier in January in which 98.83% of its citizens voted in favour of secession from the Republic of Sudan.

Barely two years later in December 2013, fighting broke out within the ranks of the army, then known as Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). One faction of the army supported President Salva Kiir while another aligned itself with Vice President Riek Machar.

In 2015, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) which is the region's economic community, brokered the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) which led to a brief pause in the fighting.

Renewed peace efforts would be made again in 2018 under the stewardship of then Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. This culminated in the signing of what became known as the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed by nine political signatories and 16 civil society formations in Khartoum, Sudan.

However, former Deputy Chief of the South Sudan army, Thomas Cirillo, refused to sign the agreement and now leads the National Salvation Front, a rebel group which operates in the Central and Western Equatoria States. The National Salvation Front regularly clashes with the South Sudan People's Defence Forces. This has led to the displacement of thousands of people and represents a threat to the R-ARCSS.

The R-ARCSS established a power sharing mechanism amongst the belligerent parties. Under the agreement, South Sudan must draft and adopt a Constitution to replace the transitional Constitution adopted on independence in 2011. The country must also hold a national general election at the end of the lifespan of the agreement.

South Africa chairs the African Union High Level Ad Hoc Committee for South Sudan, also known as the C5. Composing of South Africa, Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda, the C5 was established by the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government in 2015 to lend political and other support to the South Sudan peace process.

Evidently, the work of the Special Envoy contributes to the effort to silence the guns. It seeks to complement IGAD, the African Union (AU) and the United Nations in the search for peace in South Sudan, the region and the wider African continent.

Earlier this week, I had a virtual meeting with Mr. Nicholas Haysom, a distinguished South African who serves as Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to discuss the situation in that sister African country. In the coming weeks and months, I will be engaging fully with various parties to the conflict, South Sudan's neighbours, members of the C5 and relevant players beyond the region and continent.

The attainment of peace in South Sudan will help to stabilise an already strained Horn of Africa region, with its various levels of social and political conflicts within and between countries. Peace must also lead to the development effort which should, in turn, contribute to the material upliftment of the people. It should also help to address a plethora of social and political problems, including stemming the phenomenon of migration.

In this regard, South Sudan is one of the world's most fertile pieces of real estate which has not been tilled since the beginning of time except for rudimentary peasant agriculture. It has abundant water which goes to waste year in year out. Apart from oil, the country's precious rare earth and other minerals have similarly hardly been exploited. South Sudan has all it takes to become one of the economic hubs in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. But only if we can bring peace.

As all of us are aware, today is Africa Day. This is the day on which the Organisation of African Unity, the forerunner to the AU, was formed by 32 Heads of State of independent African States in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa Ethiopia.

Those visionary giants of envisioned an Africa free from colonialism and apartheid. They also dreamt of a peaceful, democratic and prosperous continent whose peoples enjoy the best quality of life that the continent can offer.

Such an Africa is possible. Let us roll up our sleeves to make it a reality.

I thank you!

On Safety of Traditional Leaders in Rural Communities

Honourable Speaker,

On the 5th of May 2023, I met with the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders as well as the Minister and Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The meeting discussed, among others the issue of the safety of Traditional Leaders in our country. We also discussed the importance of strengthening the institution of traditional leadership.

The high rate of the killings of Traditional Leaders, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, remains a serious concern to us. In this regard, the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in the Province entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Community Safety and Liaison to address this matter.

As part of ongoing efforts to address the killings of Traditional Leaders and rural safety in general, the Minster of Police launched the National Rural Safety Strategy in 2020. This strategy remains an important instrument of addressing rural safety through an integrated day-to-day policing approach, by creating a safe and secure rural environment.

The South African Police Service also participates in the Work-stream of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team that is dealing with this issue of the killings of traditional leaders, and rural safety in general.

In order to enhance the implementation of the National Rural Safety Strategy, the South African Police Service has initiated the concept of Traditional Policing, which has been welcomed by the Institution of Traditional Leadership.

Honourable Speaker,

We are aware that in certain instances succession disputes create tension within the Institution of Traditional Leadership. To this end, the Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Act was passed by Parliament in 2019. The Act clearly outlines processes to be followed when nominations and recognition of heirs to the throne of traditional leadership are conducted.

As a Government, we will continue to work closely with the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders, through the Intern-Ministerial Task Team, to address challenges that affect the stability of the institution and development in traditional communities.

We are also discussing the notion of the Kings Forum as one of the mechanisms to strengthen the institution of traditional leadership.

I am currently undertaking various provincial visits to take forward the commitments that were made by my predecessor in an effort to further strengthen our partnership, and address matters of concern to the institution of Traditional Leadership.

I thank you!

On Promoting LGBQTIA+ and Human Rights

Honourable Speaker,

The Constitution of the Republic outlaws all unfair discrimination on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation, whether committed by the Government or by a private party. For this reason, the government strongly believes that the rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer/Questioning, Asexual (LGBTQIA+) are human rights.

According to Human Dignity Trust, a strategic litigation NGO which defends and advances the rights of LGBTQIA+ people, there is a total of 67 countries around the world which criminalise same-sex sexual activity.

Forty one (41) of these countries criminalise private, consensual sexual activity between women. Eleven (11) countries impose the death penalty while 14 other criminalise transgender people.

This gives you an idea of the enormity of the challenge at hand. The matter under discussion concerns many countries throughout the world with whom you must engage persuasively to recognise the rights of LGBTQIA+ people.

We must endeavour to persuade because the fact that the 67 countries in question criminalise LGBTQIA+ people is indicative of the truism that our outlook and our laws are not universal. We cannot therefore impose our will on other countries; we have to engage. Sixty seven (67) out of the world's 195 countries represents slightly more than a third - specifically 34.3% of the world which is no small number by any stretch of the imagination.

The Government will continue to engage nationally and internationally about the moral and political need to respect the rights of LGBTQIA+ people in bilateral and other fora.

I thank you

On Reviving the Family as a Basic Unit in Promoting Social Cohesion
Honourable Speaker,

We share the same sentiment with the Honourable member that families are a basic and essential building block of any society, and collectively, have a crucial role to play in building socially cohesive communities.

The family bears the primary responsibility for the socialisation of children, instilling values of responsible citizenship and belonging in society, and provision of emotional support for its members.

Strengthening the role of the family is the protection of the children. Hence we have decided that annually we must commemorate National Child Protection Week to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the Children's Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

Next week from 28 May to 4 June we will mark Child Protection Week under the theme, "Let us protect children during COVID-19 and BEYOND".

This we must do because in society when a child is wrong the question is always asked, who is the family of this child? So families are important in the upbringing of the children the future of our country. We will continue to mobilise all sectors of society to protect children, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

We must also begin to institutionalise the commemoration and celebration of family day or family days, which was declared in 1995. Family Day celebrations include a range of activities and events that are geared towards bringing families together. These include family picnics, braais, and outings to parks and other recreational areas. It also includes families giving to the needy and destitute in our communities and thereby teaching the spirit of Ubuntu caring about others.

However, we acknowledge that many families are facing serious challenges of poverty, lack of access to basic services and social ills related to alcohol and drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, and Gender-Based Violence and Femicide, to mention just a few.

Many of the social ills that we are grappling with as a country are a result of either weak family systems or families that have disintegrated.

Supporting resilient families, and by extension society and the economy, is the ethos that underlies the design of all of our Government interventions.

It is on this basis that the Government will be tabling the revised White Paper on Families during this financial year.

The White Paper seeks to:

  • Provide guidelines and strategies for promoting family life and strengthening of families. In turn the promotion of family life would enable families to fulfil their requisite roles and responsibilities in society, and ultimately make them catalysts of progress and national development;
  • Serve as a vehicle to coordinate interventions that help the family from further disintegration and vulnerability;
  • Change the unfavourable conditions affecting families and communities;
  • Strengthen partnerships with the communities, civil society organisations, traditional leaders, religious organisations, and the private sector.

In addition, the Department of Social Development is working with civil society organisations on implementing parenting and inter-generational programmes that seek to build positive relations between children and their caregivers.

Further, the Government has established the Inter-Sectoral Forum comprising of representatives from Government departments, civil society organisations, business and international organisations to ensure proper coordination of services to families, share best practice models and identify service delivery gaps.

Honourable Speaker,

Strong families build stronger and more cohesive communities, which in turn contribute to nation-building. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to play our role in our own families, to advance our common national agenda.

It is in the family that our young people first learn moral and ethical values, which give meaning to their lives.

We call especially on all men in our country to step up and be present in the lives of their children, and their families.

We must, therefore, continue to work collectively as social partners to implement socio-economic programmes that seek to lift families out of poverty and hopelessness.

I thank you!