Government will, in the next two weeks, advertise thousands of hectares of available State land for lease, as the country accelerates its land reform programme.
Detailing how the process will unfold, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, on Thursday said during this period, government will issue advertisement notices of 896 farms measuring 700 000 hectares of underutilised or vacant State land in the following provinces:
- The Eastern Cape has received an allocation of 43 000 Ha.
- Free State and KwaZulu-Natal have been allocated 8 333 Ha and 3 684 Ha, respectively.
- Limpopo will disburse 121 567 Ha to beneficiaries.
- Mpumalanga will receive 40 206 Ha.
- The Northern Cape and North West will, respectively, release 12 224 Ha and 300 000 Ha.
- No land will be advertised in Gauteng and the Western Cape.
Addressing media, Didiza said notices will be in the placed on local, district and provincial newspapers, websites and local radio stations.
Application forms will be made available at the district offices and provincial offices of the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, as well as Municipal District offices.
The adjudication and selection process will then begin.
“After the closing date, all applications received will be compiled and captured in a database per district in each province,” said the Minister.
The District Beneficiary Screening Committee (DBSC) will then screen the application, interview against the criteria set out in the advertisement notice and make recommendations to the Provincial Technical Committee (PTC) for consideration.
The Provincial Technical Committee will evaluate and review the recommendations of the District Committee and submit to the national department for approval. This will take approximately three weeks.
The National Selection and Approval Committee (NSAC) will consider all recommendations and approve suitable applications. This will take approximately three weeks.
Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the outcome in writing. The Minister said unsuccessful applicants will have an opportunity to register their appeals with the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.
Land Allocation Enquiry Process
Outlining the Land Allocation Enquiry Process, Didiza said this will be ongoing on State land that is already occupied without formal approval from the department.
“Such enquiry will assess farms that have been acquired through the Pro Active Land Acquisition (PLAS) programme. The land enquiry will investigate and determine how individuals and communities, who are currently occupying the land, got access to it,” she said.
The enquiry is also expected to look at how the land is currently being utilised and whether such use is in accordance with the agricultural practices for the area.
Where such land has been used for settlement, Didiza said, an assessment will be done, together with the Departments of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation; and Environmental, Forestry and Fisheries.
Based on the outcome of the assessment and recommendation, a decision will be taken on the future of such occupations.
Government will offer successful lessees a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy.
“This form of leasehold places certain obligations on the State as the lessor and beneficiaries as the lessees,” she said.
All beneficiaries, who have been allocated State land and signed lease agreements, will be subjected to a compulsory training programme.
The training programme will include entry level training on the commodity of their choice, basic record keeping, and basic financial management, as well as enterprise development.
- The lease agreement signed between the State and the beneficiary will be a legally binding contractual agreement.
- The lease agreement will not be transferable under any circumstances.
- The beneficiary will not be allowed to sub-lease or sublet a portion of land or the whole of the farm under the leasehold between him/her and the State.
- The beneficiary has an obligation to maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the land allocated to him/her.
- The beneficiary will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the State.
- Any investment made by the beneficiary must be recorded, valued and reported to the State.
- Beneficiaries will pay a monthly or annual rental fee per hectare, determined by the State, consistent with the value of the land in line with area valuation.
- A credit management system will be put in place to manage debt recovery and management.
Failure to comply with any of the contractual obligations listed above, the State will consider the option of terminating the lease.
- Enter into a lease agreement with the beneficiary, 30 days after approval of the application.
- Ensure that basic infrastructure is in good shape and register the infrastructure and assets on the farm.
- Issue monthly invoices to the beneficiary with payment due date.
- Undertake quarterly inspection visits by the Land Administration Unit to ensure that State infrastructure and assets are well kept.
- Table annual reports on the performance of the lease and productivity of the land to the Minister.
Land released to farmers
Since the announcement in February during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, 135 117 Ha of land have been released by the department to 275 farmers.
The breakdown per province is as follows:
- Free State: 501 Ha
- Gauteng: 929 ha
- KwaZulu-Natal: 4 940 Ha
- Limpopo: 32 170 Ha
- Mpumalanga: 50 480 Ha
- North West: 46 097 Ha
The beneficiaries in terms of demographics are as follows: Women – 160; Youth – 114 and people with disabilities – 1.
Through the Pro Active Land Acquisition programme, 20 439 Ha of land have been released to six young beneficiaries, four of which are female.
On land claims, the Minister said about 360 173 Ha had been identified through the State land analysis to be under claim, equating to 413 properties.
About 43 670 Ha, equating to 60 properties, are new order claims.
To date, 4 089 hectares equating to seven properties have already been transferred to beneficiaries of land claims. Research has been concluded on 4 558 Ha, equating to 10 properties, and will be finalised in due course.
A total of 117 000 Ha is currently under research for the 2020/21 financial year.
A total of 30 823 Ha, equating to 46 properties, relates to land claims that have been settled and are yet to be transferred in the current financial year.
The remaining hectares will be transferred as soon as the claims are settled, Didiza said. – SAnews.gov.za