The residents of the Western Cape Province’s Cape Winelands District expressed their full support for the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill during public hearings that were conducted by the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development on the Bill yesterday at Van Huyssteem Avenue Indoor Sports Centre in Worcester.
In spite of concerns they raised on the Bill, they expressed their hope that it will demolish the wall that denied the majority of South Africans, Africans in particular, access to land. They said they are supporting it on the grounds that it will address the legacy of the long years of the marginalisation of the majority of South Africans from the land.
On the declaration of protected agricultural areas, participants submitted that the agricultural development zones should be declared and they suggested that each farming unit must be zoned using the global acceptable principles of sustainable farming.
The participants further said that some subdivision of farms should be underpinned to enhance food security and that 10% of all agricultural land be set aside for this purpose to promote food security. They told the committee that the state must use its power through the Bill to promote land reform in the country.
On the agricultural land evaluation and classification, the participants raised a concern that this section gives more powers to the provincial government. They said that the wording regarding the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is very weak. They argued that, that weakness indicates that the Bill does not give much power to the Minister but to the provincial MECs.
Representatives of the small-scale farmers in the Cape Winelands District like their counterparts in the West Coast District, told the committee that the Bill excludes them and they argued that it doesn’t specify how much land will be allocated for small-scale farming. They said it merely states that there will be land that will be reviewed and evaluated for agricultural use.
The participants informed the committee that Cape Winelands District is known as a place that is marked by, among other things, domination of a culture of gross human rights violations including exploitation of farm workers, evictions, disconnections of farm dwellers from water pipes and electricity by heartless and ruthless farmers.
The PDAL Bill seeks, among other things, to provide that the Subdivision of Agricultural Land Act (SALA) of 1970 applies to all agricultural land in the country, to provide principles for the management of agricultural land; to provide for agricultural land evaluation and classification; to provide for the preparation, purpose and content of provincial agricultural sector plans and to provide for the declaration of protected agricultural areas.
The Chairperson of the committee, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, said the Bill also aims to address SALA shortcomings and other identified weaknesses. “SALA is currently administered only by the national department of agriculture and, as such, it does not conform to the constitutional requirements of cooperative governance where national, provincial and local spheres of government have a role to play,” he said
He added: “SALA is only applicable to privately owned land and thus, the department cannot protect high-value agricultural land owned by the state, statutory bodies, communal land and land administered by traditional authorities.”
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON AGRICULTURE LAND REFORM AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT, NKOSI ZWELIVELILE MANDELA
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