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State land to be leased

Government will, in the next two weeks, advertise thousands of hectares of available State land for lease, as the country accelerates its land reform programme.

Detailing how the process will unfold, Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza says during this period, government will issue advertisement notices of 896 farms measuring
700 000 hectares (ha) of underutilised or vacant State land in the following provinces:

  • The Eastern Cape has received an allocation of 43 000 ha.
  • Free State and KwaZulu-Natal have been allocated 8 333 ha and 3 684 ha, respectively.
  • Limpopo will disburse 121 567 ha to beneficiaries.
  • Mpumalanga will receive 40 206 ha.
  • The Northern Cape and North West will, respectively, release 12 224 ha and 300 000 ha.

No land will be advertised in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

Addressing media recently, Minister Didiza says notices will be placed on local, district and provincial newspapers, websites and local radio stations.

Application forms will be made available at the district offices and provincial offices of the Departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, as well as municipal district offices.

Both successful and unsuccessful applicants will be informed of the outcome in writing. The Minister says unsuccessful applicants will have an opportunity to register their appeals with the Land Allocation Appeals Committee.

Land Allocation Enquiry Process

Outlining the Land Allocation Enquiry Process, Minister Didiza says this will be ongoing on State land that is already occupied without formal approval from the department.

“Such enquiry will assess farms that have been acquired through the Proactive Land Acquisition programme. The land enquiry will investigate and determine how individuals and communities, who are currently occupying the land, got access to it,” she says.

The enquiry is also expected to look at how the land is currently being utilised and whether such use is in accordance with the agricultural practices for the area.

Where such land has been used for settlement Minister Didiza says an assessment will be done, together with the departments of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation; and Environment, Forestry and Fisheries.

Based on the outcome of the assessment and recommendation, a decision will be taken on the future of such occupations. Government will offer successful lessees a 30-year leasehold, with an option to buy.

“This form of leasehold places certain obligations on the State as the lessor and beneficiaries as the lessees,” she says.

Beneficiary responsibilities

All beneficiaries who have been allocated State land and signed lease agreements will be subjected to a compulsory training programme.

The training programme will include entry level training on the commodity of their choice, basic record keeping, and basic financial management, as well as enterprise development.

1. The lease agreement signed between the State and the beneficiary will be a legally binding contractual agreement.

2. The lease agreement will not be transferable under any circumstances.

3. The beneficiary will not be allowed to sublease or sublet a portion of land or the whole of the farm under the leasehold between him/her and the State.

4. The beneficiary has an obligation to maintain all the infrastructure and upkeep of the land allocated to him/her.

5. The beneficiary will have to manage, maintain and keep the record of assets received from the State.

6. Any investment made by the beneficiary must be recorded, valued and reported to the State.

7. Beneficiaries will pay a monthly or annual rental fee per hectare, determined by the State, consistent with the value of the land in line with area valuation.

8. A credit management system will be put in place to manage debt recovery and management.

Failure to comply with any of the contractual obligations listed above, the State will consider the option of terminating the lease.

Government responsibilities

1. Enter into a lease agreement with the beneficiary, 30 days after approval of the application.

2. Ensure that basic infrastructure is in good shape and register the infrastructure and assets on the farm.

3. Issue monthly invoices to the beneficiary with payment due dates.

4. Undertake quarterly inspection visits by the Land Administration Unit to ensure that State infrastructure and assets are well kept.

5. Table annual reports on the performance of the lease and productivity of the land to the Minister.SAnews.gov.za