The Eastern Cape Land Dialogue kicked off on a high note with the Eastern Cape MEC for rural development and agrarian reform (DRDAR) Xolile Nqatha calling for the forum to take “tangible and substantial” resolutions.
Speaking on the first of the three-day event, themed ‘A provincial perspective towards South Africa’s Land Debate,’ Nqatha said it was important to ensure the resolutions taken were implemented.
The Dialogue is in collaboration with the national departments of Rural Development and Land Reform, Public Works, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and the University of Fort Hare.
“We need to focus on the concrete and implementable issues because this should not be just another talk shop that will result in malicious compliance,” Nqatha said.
We need to provide a policy framework on how to effectively use the land that is currently lying fallow so that we can unlock the potential of using land to develop our people.
“We should come with deliberate plans that will ensure land is utilised productively because we will not win the fight against poverty if land is not used productively,” Nqatha said.
Land experts, academics and traditional leaders gave presentations on different issues as part of stimulating discussions on the land issue to various stakeholders who attended the Dialogue.
Academic and political analyst, Professor Somadoda Fikeni, who described the issue of land as a “sensitive” matter, said land reform should be attached to “green revolution and thriving agriculture activities.”
“There will be no peace and tranquillity until land is given to the people. We need to be decisive and come up with creative ways to use the land.
“We should have plans that are simple and implementable. The issue of institutional and leadership capacity and research should be uplifted so that we can be able to implement,” Fikeni said.
Lulama Ngcukaitobi, who decried the high prices of farms when they were being sold to government, said the issue of land was “political (and) not legal”.
He said that politicians should play an active and critical role instead of letting the courts decide on the matter as that was to “enrich the lawyers”.
“Prices of land should be reduced drastically. We need to identify people that are in need of the farms and will be producing.
“We need to have a process that is transparent and have an institution that deals with land which is strong and focuses on poor people instead of enriching the few elite people,” Ngcukaitobi said.
He also called upon government to put in place a national legislation on land redistribution to accelerate land reform.