Hon Deputy Speaker, hon Ministers, Deputy Ministers, my colleagues, at the 2005 National Land Summit, the critical issue of the National Land Audit was debated and it was resolved that the state should undertake this exercise. This call was informed by the fact that what can't be measured cannot inform a process of transformation, reconstruction and development. Numerous structures of the ANC debated this matter.
In the evaluating process of progress of the 4th National Policy Conference of the ANC in June, the ANC re-affirmed its position of fast-tracking land redistribution to the landless people, stating that the audit should be completed by December 2012. The directive was that the audit should cover the survey of state land together with the former Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei, TBVC, states.
The policy conference further agreed that in August 2012 a meeting of all custodian departments should be held to take stock of the progress made in the surveying of the state land portfolio under custodianship and to table a complete register of immovable assets. The reversal of the 1913 Natives Land Act legacy has everything to do with ensuring the completion of a comprehensive land audit.
The state land audit must be seen in the context of the transformation of both the urban and rural economies, and the implementation of agrarian transformation leading to a rapid and fundamental change in relation to production, ownership and control of land.
Land is a finite resource. It sustains our country, determines our sovereignty as a nation and is the foundation of our diverse culture, which is at the heart of who we are. The state land audit constitutes a matter of strategic national importance. In addition, the purpose of the audit of state land was to determine how much land is owned by the state, what is it used for and who its occupants or users are.
It also had to compile an accurate land register that provides detailed information about what rights exist over the land and which state structure holds the title deed of the land. In terms of the process, the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was tasked with the executive responsibility to conduct this audit and the Office of the Chief Surveyor- General was commissioned to conduct such audit.
The audit was conducted onsite by state officials with the assistance of contract workers employed by the department. The work began in essence in December 2009, when the Office of the Chief Surveyor-General was tasked by the Minister to compile a comprehensive, accurate, complete and reliable database of all land parcels registered in the name of the government of the Republic of South Africa across all spheres of government, former TBVC states and state-owned enterprises.
The audit was conducted in phases. Phase one was a study of the deeds offices conducted in 2010 in order to identify all pieces of land registered in the name of the state. The second phase was conducted by identifying every piece of state land during site visits, gathering all information relating to occupants or users, occupation agreements, existing infrastructure and services, and establishing whether it was, in fact, state or private land.
The findings showed that the state owns 14% of the country's land, with 79% of land in private hands, as was already alluded to by my colleagues who spoke before me. In the Eastern Cape there are a huge number of hectares which are unaccounted for. In Gauteng the largest percentage of land is in private hands and also reflects the largest percentage of land owned by foreign nationals. The lowest percentage of land that is uncounted for is in the Northern Cape and the Free State. Currently, the state-owned land constitute just over 17 million hectares, with more than 96 million hectares in private hands. Hon Deputy Speaker, the hon Mileham of the DA came to this podium and told South Africans that the DA supported the process of land reform. I must, however, remind him that the DA refused to support the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill; they voted against it. They also voted against the Property Valuation Bill just yesterday.
Hon Ntapane reminded us that 89% of private-owned land is here in the Western Cape. [Interjections.] I think that in debating this issue of land, hon members, it becomes very clear that the politics of blacks and whites play themselves out loud and clear. The whites who are privileged to have owned this land are consistently refusing to have an honest discussion about how this land can be returned to its rightful owners.
Let me remind them that their stance is not sustainable, because there are many people in this country who endorse the Constitution, which is the driver that actually compels or propels us to drive this process. We are not driving the process of land restitution simply because we have lost something in our heads, but because we know that the land was taken from our people in 1913, and therefore there is a need for a democratic government to take the land back.
He speaks about the willing-buyer, willing-seller principle, and he is fully aware that the willing-buyer, willing-seller model, as far as the National Assembly is concerned, is replaced by the principle of just and equitable compensation. I do not know what he is talking about; he lives in the past. He reminds me of someone who continues to sing the song, "Bring back my yesterday".
The Constitution of this country is a guarantee that the past is gone, and it will never come back again. In terms of rural economy, as he was explaining here, we must remind him that we have what is called a Comprehensive Rural Development Plan, CRDP, which is aimed at making sure that our economy in the rural areas is vital.
The CRDP compels the state to pump in infrastructure money to ensure that rural areas are developed. I don't know in which country he is living; maybe he lives in another country. But let me say to the hon members in the House who still believe that they can hold onto this land that the process is moving. Hon Nkwinti told us that, siyaqhuba [we are moving]; we are not going to stop. You better join us, because what we are doing is legal. So, you better join us.
What I like about South Africa is that our people are still full of hope and patience that we will resolve this matter, and I can assure you that the ANC is going to address this matter, with or without some of you on my left. The good thing is that the majority of members in this House are in support of this process.
I feel only pity for my African colleagues who are trapped in the politics of the party on my left, because they know that the land we are talking about is the land their grandfathers and grandmothers lost at the hands of some of these people who are sitting on my left. [Applause.] But they can't stand up and break ranks and say, enough is enough, because the dispossession of land was the genesis of poverty in this country for African people.
We are not going to sit back. We have the majority, which we are going to use, but we will follow the Constitution to ensure that the land is constitutionally returned to its rightful owners. Thank you. [Applause.]