Redistribution farms handed over to beneficiaries by Minister Thoko Didiza

The 100 title deeds of redistribution farms that Minister Thoko Didiza handed over to beneficiaries would have been an important step in the right direction if it had not been misused so conspicuously as a political ploy shortly before the election.

It also goes against the grain of her department’s gross abuses in areas such as the Karoo, Transkei and Gert Sibanda districts where beneficiaries who farm successfully are replaced by politically connected cadres without viable alternative lands being made available to them.

Saai has been fighting since 2020 to force the department to work more transparently, fairly and honestly in the awarding and cancellation of leases. Despite the minister’s visit to the problem areas, discussions about the cause and origin of the problem, and her promises to address it, local land affairs officials continue unabated with the corrupt and nepotistic allocation of redistribution lands, as if the minister’s promises have no implications.

The 100 title deeds that are transferred because of the election do not represent a fraction of the expectation that the minister created in December through her promises to beneficiaries. Thousands of tenants who have been farming on state land since 2007 have received assurances from the minister that the ANC will no longer allow them to struggle forever as subfarmers on the department’s farms, but that they would get ownership of their farms in early 2024.

Title deeds on farms are the most powerful wealth creator in agriculture, and lie at the basis of food security, investor confidence and the agricultural financing system we know in southern Africa. The ANC’s procrastination over the past 30 years to give title deeds to beneficiaries of land reform has doomed a whole generation of black farmers to poverty and state dependence. This is one of the main reasons why South Africa has not succeeded in establishing a class of profitable black farmers among the tenants of land reform.

Saai is ready to intensify the pressure on the minister after the election to transfer more title deeds faster.