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The FW de Klerk Foundation writes regular articles on topical issues, supports language and cultural rights and participates in the national debate on racial and cultural issues. The Foundation also promotes communication by holding conferences and workshops.

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As the deadline looms for submissions on section 25 of the Constitution, it is increasingly clear that there is little information on that most critical of matters: who owns what land in South Africa. It is becoming ever more evident that in the absence of a credible baseline that is evidence-based, assumptions, counter-assumptions and narratives crafted based on incomplete information will prevail. 

The Parliamentary motion on section 25 stated “that black people own less than 2% of rural land, and less than 7% of urban land”. This claim was subsequently reiterated by President Ramaphosa. The claim is based on the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) Land Audit (Government Audit) that was published at the end of 2017. The math however, was highly problematic. The findings are that of the 3.2 million hectares of urban land, 722 667 hectares are individually owned. Of this total, whites own 49.5%, Africans 30.3%, coloureds 7.7%, Indians 2%, co-owners 2% and others 5%. The EFF refashioned the statistics by subdividing the number of hectares held individually by Africans into the grand total of all urban land (3.2 million hectares) and came to 7%. But by this same calculation, whites would own “only 11%” of urban land. On rural land, the Government Audit uses statistics from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to point out that communal land (the old homeland areas) consists of 16 million hectares, and that individual land ownership of farms and agricultural holdings stand at 3.5%. It is clear that the above statement - that black rural land ownership amounts to 2% - is a blatant lie.

parliament interior sabc

The FW de Klerk Foundation condemns the vitriolic attack by EFF Deputy President, Floyd Shivambu, on Ismail Momoniat at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Finance on 5 June 2018. This indicates yet again the abuse of parliamentary privilege and more significantly, the rabid race politics of the EFF.  

Shivambu objected to the presence of Treasury Deputy Director-General Ismail Momoniat at the meeting. He asked why Director-General Dondo Mogajane did not appear and concluded that this undermined African ‘representativeness’. He went so far as to say that Momoniat’s presence undermined African leadership. An EFF statement reasserted Shivambu’s comments, “Momoniat has no regard for black, particularly African leadership in National Treasury and this includes his disrespect of Director-General and African Ministers and Deputy Ministers. To him, leadership that deserves respect is only those of Indian, Coloured or White origin. In virtually everything that National Treasury does, Momoniat dictates.”

City sml

The Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu and the Minister of Cooperative Governance, Zweli Mkhize, recently stated things are worsening with the finances (and by implication therefore with service delivery) at municipalities. The shocking figures in this regard are already well known: irregular expenditure increased to R28.3 billion (from R 16.2 billion in 2015/2016) nationwide - an increase of 75%. In addition, 128 of the 257 the municipalities across the country are experiencing serious financial difficulties, and only 13% (33) received clean audits. Eskom has announced that municipalities now have more than R14 billion worth of outstanding debt for unpaid electricity bills alone.

By government’s own admission, it is no longer necessary to continue embellishing the state of affairs. It is enough to make one ill, literally in the case of millions of South Africans who are on the receiving end of dismal municipal service, if at all. The question staring us in the face is: how can this crisis be solved? How can we get back to a place where municipalities put the people they are supposed to serve first? To answer this question, one first needs to examine the causes of this state of affairs.

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The FW de Klerk Foundation welcomes the passing of the Public Audit Amendment Bill (the Bill) by the National Assembly on 29 May 2018. The Bill gives the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) more powers to effectively address maladministration.The Bill will empower the AG to refer adverse findings in its reports to investigative bodies at all levels of government, as well as state-owned entities. 

The specific amendments will permit the Office of the AG to refer gross irregularities to authorities, including the National Prosecuting Authority, as well as the Public Protector, to recover funds lost due to non-adherence to the Public Finance Management Act, from accounting officers. This includes fraud, theft or any breaches of fiduciary duty where significant harm to the general public or a public entity occurs. 

section 25

There is a common view among some South Africans that after 24 years of democracy, less than 10% of the land in South Africa belongs to the majority of the population. Someone began to circulate the narrative that the biggest issue relating to the slow pace of land reform is the ‘willing seller, willing buyer’ principle - and that this is prescribed by the Constitution (which is untrue). Together with this, the second biggest obstacle is described as the “equitable compensation” for land, which is prescribed in section 25 of the Constitution. That’s where the call for expropriation without compensation (EWC) originated and gained momentum. Change section 25 of the Constitution, return land without any compensation and the “original sin” will simply vanish in a flash!

What really went wrong? Who should get the blame? Is it the property owners who resolutely cling to their (for some, stolen) land? Is it the estate agents and brokers? Section 25(5) requires that the State “must 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”. Furthermore, 25(8) states: “No provision of this section may impede the State from taking legislative and other measures to achieve land, water and related reform, in order to correct the results of past racial discrimination”. So land reform is, according to the Constitution, the responsibility of the State.

KEYS TIMESLIVE

The FW de Klerk Foundation has with sadness taken note of the news that former business leader and Cabinet member, Derek Keys, has passed away. Having played an outstanding role in our transition to democracy, he served in both the Cabinets of former President FW de Klerk and President Nelson Mandela. In his response to the death of Mr Keys, former President De Klerk said: “He was a remarkable man who served South Africa in an exemplary manner. He deserves special respect regarding his work during the Constitutional negotiations. We have lost a great South African.

Mr Keys, a respected business leader in his own right and at the time Chairman of the mining house Gencor, became Minister of Finance in 1992 and served until September 1994, the latter part in the first Cabinet of the new South Africa. After his political career, he continued to serve on the boards of several companies. 

FWDK Matthew Willman SML

The peaceful resolution of South Africa’s long-standing racial imbroglio 24 years ago seemed to show that even the most intractable disputes could be solved peacefully by compromise and negotiation. Our experience gave new hope to the world that it might be possible to mediate the impossible and that other long-standing disputes might also be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

Since then the world has, by and large, been disappointed by the failure to replicate the success that we South Africans achieved:  

  • a negotiated solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict appears to be further away than ever;  
  • Russia continues to pursue its national goals while showing little interest in negotiating workable solutions to the situations in the Ukraine and the Crimea;  
  • in the absence of meaningful negotiations between its complex ethnic, religious and political factions, Syria continues to tear itself apart. 

FARM SPADE opt

A first national dialogue on land reform took place at the end of March in Johannesburg at the request of the ANC members of the Parliamentary Review Committee. This was ostensibly an attempt by the Ramaphosa faction within the ANC to wrest ownership of the process from the EFF (and Zuma supporters), who had of late been setting the pace in the debate.

The pronouncements of ANC officials at the dialogue brought some interesting and important issues to light. A key issue is that of how the officially-documented Nasrec decision on land reform differs from that which was reported in the media after the elective conference.

While expropriation without compensation (EWC) would be one of the key mechanisms for land reform (as part of radical socio-economic transformation), it was emphasised that its implementation should ensure that future investment in the economy is not undermined (my emphasis),and that agricultural production and food security are not harmed. Implementation should also not harm other sectors of the economy (my emphasis). Further, there should be a focus on land owned by the State, especially abandoned, unused and underutilised land (not necessarily agricultural land). The conditions for EWC in the official Nasrec decision are clearly stronger than initially reported.  They are even more powerful when compared with the hastily compiled, sloppily-worded amendment to the EFF parliamentary motion regarding the changes to section 25. This only makes mention of implementation which “increases agricultural production and improves food security”.

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