Communities living on communal land will soon own that land, if Deputy President David Mabuza has his way. According to TimesLive, Mabuza told Parliament on Tuesday that the new Communal Land Tenure Bill, tabled last year and currently out for public comment, will provide for the transferal of ownership of communal land.
This reportedly means that traditional leaders who currently own communal land will no longer do so.
Answering questions in Parliament, Mabuza reportedly said the bill will also provide for the transfer of ownership of residential portions currently occupied by community members.
He reportedly said, "In other words‚ communities will have title deeds for their communal land and community members will have title deeds for their residential or business portions. Of course there are different views on this matter‚ and we encourage that mature engagement continues in a manner that builds our country in order to produce the necessary cohesion. The bottom line is that the lands belongs to the people."
Mabuza said there was a "mistaken" view that traditional leaders were the rightful owners of communal land.
"In terms of customs‚ it is the people who own the land. Traditional leaders are only custodians of the people's land. Because of these perceptions and at times conflicting views on who has a right of ownership of such land between traditional leaders and ordinary people‚ the government then is seeking to address this issue in a manner that seeks certainty and removes any possibility of unwarranted conflicts and distortions."
Mabuza also said that those who are given land through expropriation without compensation must not sit idly on it.
According to News24, Mabuza also said that it was not only private land that will be expropriated, but state land too.
We've got land that is under the ownership of the State. Different departments are holding land, as are municipalities," he told the House.
"That land is going to be expropriated and given to the people, not just to lie on the land; these people must work the land.
"Government is going to assist those people to work the land. That is going to happen."
In a separate question, Mabuza said Cabinet was happy with the intervention in the North West, and denied that it was politically-motivated. According to Eyewitness News (EWN), Mabuza was fielding questions from opposition parties who questioned why government did not act in the Free State, where the Auditor-General found municipalities to be a worse state than in the North West.
The DA reportedly said it looked like government was protecting ANC secretary general Ace Magashule who was Free State premier.
But Mabuza reportedly said, "We are not going to witch hunt but where there is a collapse of services, definitely in the interests of the people, government must intervene... I want to take that warning seriously, but that warning must be explicit."