Gugile Nkwinti. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Gugile Nkwinti. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

The government’s land audits have not been able to reveal fully who owns and uses the country’s agricultural land, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says.

The government needs a comprehensive land audit to assess the performance of its land reform programme. Not nearly enough reform has occurred since 1994.

Nkwinti said in his budget speech in Parliament that an accurate record of all public agricultural land was needed.

"Our biggest challenge remains the answer to the question, Who owns South Africa?" Nkwinti said.

"In terms of phase 1 of our land audit, it became clear that we still needed to conduct an audit [to identify] land ownership by race, gender and nationality," he said.

"We have just concluded the latter process. However, there are still huge challenges because of gaps as a result of the absence of information in respect of institutions such as trusts, private and public organisations and companies, as well as sectional title holdings."

Nkwinti said the system relied on voluntary submissions. "[Landowners] deliberately withhold information about the changes on land and or property. We have no institutional mechanism to enforce disclosure," he said.

His department was also working on transforming the Land Claims Commission into a chapter nine institution.

DA MP and rural development and land reform spokesman Thomas Walters said Nkwinti’s budget vote aimed to limit land ownership to expand the role of the state.

"The upcoming Regulation of Agricultural Land Holdings Bill is essentially aimed at dumping a lot of land on the market, in the belief that will advance access to land," Walters said.

"It aims to secure a privileged position for the state as an operator, price setter, purchaser and distributor of land," he said.

"The DA challenges ANC governments to emulate our successes in share equity schemes with between 60% and 80% success rates, based on win-win partnerships.

"It should follow the DA metros’ example of vastly accelerated provision of title deeds to the poor," he said.

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