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Parliament must do more on the land issue – Motlanthe

Former president says it failed to read his land reform report.
‘Title deeds are important’ … Kgalema Motlanthe says government is buying land and not transferring ownership to the intended beneficiaries. Image: Moneyweb

Former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe says there is a lack of political will on the part of parliament when it comes to addressing the controversial land issue in the country. He was speaking at the Real Estate Industry Summit in Sandton on Friday.

What is needed is land reform, restitution and security of tenure – but the government is unduly delaying its implementation, he said.

No time to read

Motlanthe said that in 2017 he and a panel submitted a summary of a report on land reform that consisted of a “simple recommendation” that could be implemented in a month or two at no cost – but that parliamentarians made no attempt to read it.

“Despite the fact that it made very simple, straightforward recommendations, it was not read,” said Motlanthe.

He alluded to the fact that parliamentarians just do not like to read.

“Some of us [on the panel] are former parliamentarians and we understand that if you produce a tome report, it will not be read,” he said. “We grappled with this challenge, and we said we must have an executive summary so that those who don’t feel like reading huge documents might at least go through the summary.”

Read: Property rights: What happens next?

He said the unread report details the challenges that led to the passing of the Natives Land Act in 1913 (it was amended in 1936).

The aim is for restitution to be achieved peacefully. To this end, Motlanthe said the panel made recommendations to parliament for the constitution to make provision for relevant facts to be determined, including:

  • How was this property acquired, and for how much?
  • What improvements have been made on the property?
  • For what is the property currently being used? (So the going rate of the property in the market at that time can be calculated)?

Motlanthe said the panel sees the value in setting that kind of standard, with section 25 of the constitution protecting property and making provision for expropriation in the public interest, while also stipulating how just and equitable compensation should be calculated.

Motlanthe suggested that parliament pass a law of general application, but the request fell on deaf ears.

Not explicit enough

The former president said the fifth parliament instead decided that section 25 is implicit about the right to expropriate land without compensation.

Read: Ramaphosa’s land panel endorses a careful approach

“The problem is that [government] lacks the political will to address the land question,” he said, adding that parliamentarians in their wisdom decided that section 25 is not explicit enough.

They want to amend it so that it might be explicitly clear that it shall be expropriation without compensation, he said.

“Let’s hope it won’t happen in a hundred years,” he said.

He pointed out that the leaders involved are wasting time on fruitless activities.

“They [parliamentarians] went out and had workshops and pretended to be listening to the people, but I can assure that by next year April they will come back and say that this is not a great idea and they will find a detour,” said Motlanthe.


He added: “There is no reliable registrar in this country. Nobody knows who owns what in terms of land in the former movements, specifically concerning the commercial farms because there is no record of them.”

He said the report recommended that:

  • Townships and urban areas residents be given title deeds;
  • Farm dwellers receive tenure, ensured by legislation, so that they are not easily evicted; and
  • Former homelands are provided with security of tenure.

Motlanthe added that the creation of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was an error.

“This new department has no interest in land reform, it has no interest in restitution, it has no interest in security of tenure,” he said, adding that its preferred projects were about establishing agricultural parks.

He said the department’s officials lack an understanding of the primary needs of the communities they visit.  

“They would go to a community which claimed land without taking the trouble to understand who these people are,” he said. “It would be certain families that bought a piece of land and they were uprooted from their piece of land and resettled elsewhere.”

Motlanthe said the department simply buys the land back and does not transfer ownership to these beneficiaries. “So that they [the department] can control and manipulate them [the supposed beneficiaries] over time.”

He said the Communal Property Associations (CPAs) formed by the department are not effective.

“These CPAs started with real problems because they are made up of people that are real claimants and people who are not real claimants,” said Motlanthe.

He referred to MalaMala Lodge, where government officials paid R1 billion to purchase the land.

“But they then turn around to the claimants and say your claim has been successful – you now own 50% of this business. The previous owners are your mentors. They are going to teach you how to run a business,” said Motlanthe.


“There is a lot of corruption in how these things were dealt with, and the department did so because they saw the gap and they thought they would get away with creating the impression that a claim has been successfully processed – yet they are not going to transfer ownership of the land,” said Motlanthe.

He stressed that title deeds are important because they are a commercial instrument.  

“If we don’t issue these residents with the title deeds, we keep them from participating in the formal economy,” said Motlanthe.

He also urged government authorities to attend to the issue of water rights before these become an issue.



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Good luck to the government to resolve the land issue, all of most government departments and local municipalities failed in most of their daily service delivery and functions. Excuses are rather the new norm in the “new” South Africa, with a scapegoat mentality to justify corruption, theft, violence, etc.

Excellent. Makes sense to me.

I note elsewhere on Moneyweb there’s an article “Eskom, weak tax to raise budget gaps to decade high”.

Maybe we should start to cross-reference articles? 😉

Would one then regard the latter article as “The Consequence”?

Wink wink hey boet.

Goedendag mijn Brexit-vriend. Ga je het commentaargedeelte voor ons interessant maken? Ik daag je uit 😉

Vous pouvez utiliser Google Traduction si vous vous débattez …. vous savez que c’est l’ère de l’information, n’est-ce pas? ha-ha

What is that descriptive Afrikaans translation for the word “troll” again? O yes….drol….thats it. Anything is a drol

@MichaelfromKlerksdorp …..wrote:

“Maybe we should start to cross-reference articles”

Good point

Without the knowledge or competence to retain good staff, how on earth is government going to implement oversight of critical administrative duties like title deeds/ownership rights etc as Motlanthe stated in the article ??

PS…’Anything’ is a confirmed troll …..from previous comments it has come to light that he is unemployed and has resorted to trolling to keep himself busy as he has plenty of time on his hands now

@Sensei wrote :

“…’Anything’ is a drol”

Haha brilliant….new word there !

What an acknowledgment by Motlanthe on how unorganized and inefficient his own party is.

The ANC has never been interested in solving the land issue – they simply want to keep the issue on the election agenda.

Before every election and after every ANC disaster they use land, racism and sports quotas to draw the attention away.

That has been my feeling all along; aside from the ANC normal; rampant incompetence and corruption in Land Affairs.

By saying they made no attempt to read it makes the assumption that they can read.

And making the assumption that they would understand what they read if they were able to is just farfetched.

It is their job to read these things. How can you have lawmakers who don’t read? If that is the case they must retrench all of these so called legislators, and employ someone to do the job.

Sorry who is this guy? Took me like ten minutes to work out he was actually president… by default, for about 6 months. Well done. Scathing comments from another nobody which I’m surprised to see has even made headlines… He’ll be swatted aside like fly. We need people with power to stand up and make statements. Not nobodies from more than a decade ago.

You don’t follow current affairs? How do you not know who the president of your country is? You know it is the information age right?

How bizarre. Bragging about willful ignorance. South Africans. Celebrating ignorance since always.

@Anything….hey, you foaming at the mouth again !

In fact, cabinet ministers and new postings in government are recycled so much its becoming a revolving faceless bunch to be honest, so no wonder the names arent exactly posted on our bedroom walls

The president of our country ?……..Mmm, based on how much they own SA, would that be President Xi Jinping ??

He was the president for like 5 seconds you absolute fool!

Here we go again. He is quite correct, apart from land there are a few other issues to be dealt with.

Problem??? They just cannot do it. Simple incompetency!!

The problem with land reform is not slow progress, or lack of skilled implementation, and so on. It’s none of those things at all. Why is it still not done, 25 years after SA became a democracy? The answer is as simple as it is brutal. Land reform will make no difference to the lives of most South Africans. The well connected will get the best deals. Everyone else will get something that is almost worthless. The value of land is determined by fiat factors. Attack the fiat and the land becomes worthless.

All South Africans want to go to heaven, but all of them want to take the short cut.

….*chuckle* Instinctively, I had to read a particular line twice: “The value of land determined by FIAT TRACTORS…” 😉

Good points nonetheless!

Hilarious! Wink wink!

When will the ANC realise that the disenfranchised don’t want “land”, they want free housing as promised decades ago and utilities. Only 5% actually will use the “land” to cultivate it, because farming is a tough job passed down from generations. If you gave the poor land they wouldn’t know what to do with it – it doesn’t feed or clothe you.
Just another ploy to garner votes. People demonstrate because of poor service delivery and lack of housing and not because they don’t have land.

@Lapitup….100% agreed !

Give this man an A+ for reading and understanding our Constitution! Something certain members of the ANC and all members of the EFF have failed to do!

End of comments.





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