Budget Vote Rural Development and Land Reform, Lechesa Tsenoli
15 May 2012
According to the Anthropologist, Richard Lee: Before the rise of the state and the entrenchment of social inequality (about 5,000 years ago), people lived for millennia in small-scale kin-based social groups, in which the core institutions of economic life included collective or common ownership of land and resources, generalised reciprocity in the distribution of food, and relatively egalitarian political relations.
What good has happened since then and what is bad. The debates in the country revolve around settling this question among others! Let the debate reign! Democracy and transparency and the sheer stubbornness of the problem demand that we find answers urgently!
Explaining the dialectical relationship between structure and system, Robert Pirsig argues: If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory. If a revolution destroys a government, but the systematic patterns of thought that produced that government are left intact, then those patterns will repeat themselves. There’s so much talk about the system.
And so little understanding. Our task is to undo the conditions that gives rise to poverty, unemployment and inequality which is found more in rural areas. Our collaboration, working together with other departments especially of Education both higher and basic is crucial to underpin the socio-economic infrastructure we are laying in these areas! The criteria that all infrastructure must environmentally sensitive, underpin spatial integration, banish rural isolation, create jobs is crucial to overturning the problematic structure of the South African socio-economic profile.
Supporting people's own initiatives such as through the Masibambisane campaign led by President Zuma is at the heart of what must be sustainable development!
But, chairperson, all of this work is not possible without a bold decisive leadership overall inside the department we lead, fortunately the minister is providing it with quiet, but persistent passion! working cooperatively, as I said earlier with others inside government and outside, is key to multiplying the impact we are expected to make to close the huge and unacceptable levels of poverty and inequality!
In fact, Chairperson, the minister has placed great emphasis on creating a workforce of dynamic officials who must be committed, passionate, informed and energetic in the work they do.
We are paying special attention to their tools of trade, to expanding and deploying information communication technology in a very strategic manner. In fact I am convinced that the fuller utilisation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has enormous potential to improve our responsiveness internally and externally to publics we serve. We fully support the emerging call to increase especially public investment in socially relevant research and development with special emphasis on ICTs, renewable energy, etc.
Indeed interesting things are already happening! Witness how solar energy has enabled rural schools to operate computers and enabled scholars in these areas to study at night. This simple technology, is making a huge difference in the lives of our rural communities, and it can do more. The sun is not going out any time soon. We are excited by the enthusiasm of the ministry of communication and its team of officials in working with us on this project.
Chairperson, look at what has happened in communities where we have built ICT centres. It brings a new spirit to the entire community. These centres quickly become community hubs, where traditionally, people enjoy sharing cultural and community knowledge. Now we add technology to this communal mix, and the world of knowledge that technology makes available, particularly information that can make a difference.
This is partially a function of communications. And communications, Chairperson, is the crucial tool required to ensure that we are responsive to the needs and aspirations of our people. For this reason, we have undertaken a review of our communications unit, to make certain that we are able to communicate more speedily, and effectively.
We remain committed to enabling people to access our information and services readily and rapidly, as well as empowering our officials with the knowledge and skills necessary to harness this knowledge, and so improve the delivery of services.
This year, we will implement a comprehensive communication strategy, to dramatically change how we communicate internally and externally, including with you, honourable members. I’m sure many of you have heard it said: a fish lays a thousand eggs but says nothing about it. On the other hand a hen lays one egg and the whole village knows about it! Our new approach towards communications will learn from both!
Chairperson, we want people to grasp the full extent of services this department offers. We possess some of the best Cadastre and spatial planning systems in the world. A Cadastre is the comprehensive register of our nation’s real estate – its quantity, ownership and value, yet we don't showcase to what extent this benefits our people. We have some of the most up to date mapping, surveying and deeds registration systems, which, if utilised correctly, could make a huge difference in the lives of our people.
We are continuing to maintain and improve the control survey network, and to further develop the e-Cadastre project which deals with the digitisation of all the Cadastral Survey and Deeds Offices records. The e-Cadastre will take our surveying control and deeds registration operations to new heights, where we benefit from the developments in the ICT environment, to deliver a first world service to all our citizens.
To date we have electronically scanned 88 million paper-based images as part of the digitisation aspect of the e-Cadastre effort. This project, which is expected to be completed in 2013, will have a huge impact on turnaround times in land transactions and will result in registrations being effected in an average period of four to two days.
However it would be a mistake to think that everything is rosy. We are constrained by our not yet strong ability to train and employ appropriately skilled professionals in the surveying, deeds, town planning and GIS fields. As a proactive initiative, during the period under review, the department trained over 120 pupil survey officers, who subsequently graduated to become survey officers, and more than 30% of these are now undergoing training at various tertiary institutions, studying geomatics and surveying.
Through our scare skills bursary we have sponsored over 210 students to study geomatics and surveying in diploma, degree and master’s programmes, over the medium term. We have further placed 65 qualified students at various Surveyors- General offices, to undergo practical training.
Chairperson, a variety of departments across Government, together with the State-owned enterprises, own huge tracks of land. This fragmented ownership of State land is a situation we inherited from the past when numerous provincial administrations, phoney states, called Bantustans, and Self-Governing Territories held title to parts of the land they operated on.
When the 9 provinces were established, and we reduced municipalities from over 800 to just over 200 things didn't sufficiently improve. This is something we are now set to address. In 2010, we initiated a project to identify state-owned land parcels from the ownership register managed by the Deeds Registration Office.
The results of desktop analysis revealed that there are more than one million State owned land parcels in the whole of the Republic. It must be noted that this project only focused on land parcels that are surveyed and registered in the name of Government at the Deeds office. A verification project now underway will indicate how hectares this amounts to.
Chairperson, during October 2011 we commenced with Phase two – the verification phase of the project, involving field work with approximately 400 personnel, of which 270 field workers are matriculants appointed on contract. As an aside it is pleasing to note that we have not just created jobs for these matriculants but offered them an opportunity for career exposure and skills development.
By the 30 April 2012, we managed to verify 826 522 land parcels which constitutes 72% of the total number of land parcels to be verified. Progress has been hampered by a number of factors, ranging from difficulties in locating properties, unavailability of land occupants, and communities in residential areas preventing field workers conducting the verification. These challenges will be addressed within the next few months.
The work continues. Chairperson, The Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation with 18 member States in the eastern and southern Africa region. We joined in 2007, yet despite our relatively brief membership, South Africa through our Department, has had the honour, since 2010 to chair the Centre’s Council of Ministers and Governing Council.
Since joining the Regional Centre, South Africa has been a vigorous participant in the activities of the Centre, including training in disaster management, modernisation of cadasters, and of mapping reference systems.
The Centre is also prepared to support our National Rural Youth Service Corps (NARYSEC) to train our youth in GIS and Information Technology, including linking NARYSEC with similar institutions in other member states, such as Kenya, so that we can share experiences.
Our collaborative work within the activities of the Centre has further enabled us to lead and support the confirmation, relocation and verification of international boundaries between Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Within the context of international relations and cooperation 17 officials from Department of Lands in Botswana are receiving training on Sectional Titles Act implementation at our Surveyor-General and Deeds Offices.
We have also deployed a team consisting of 11 professional land surveyors and survey technicians to Namibia to support and assist the Namibian Surveyor-General on capacity building and reduction of the backlog for processing cadastral documents.
Within the Southern Africa Development Community, our immediate neighbours - Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland decided to adopt the South African Deeds Registries Act, almost in its entirety. Our Deeds Registration Branch has been providing these SADC countries with assistance and training for the purpose of developing and improving their deeds registration systems.
Chairperson, our spatial planning unit has contributed a lot to the implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme. The unit’s spatial analysis of communities enables us to plan and implement projects better. Thus far, the spatial planning unit has completed Status reports of numerous communities across the country, reports that provide information on the status or requirements of, for example roads, water, housing, population density, access to health care and education, and other factors. The department, in conjunction with municipalities uses these reports to prioritise community needs, and implement interventions accordingly, allowing for a more co-ordinated approach towards service delivery.
Chairperson, we are finally able to report finalisation of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill for submission to Parliament. This Bill seeks to bridge the stubborn racial divide in spatial terms and to transform the settlement patterns of this country.
The Bill provides for municipalities to play their developmental role effectively through the application of directive principles, land use schemes in decision-making with regard to land use and land development, and confirms that municipalities be the primary land use regulators. We keenly look forward to further engagement on the Bill, during its passage through Parliament.
I thank you for your attention.
Issued by: Department of Rural Development and Land Reform
15 May 2012
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