Chairperson, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, and our guests in the gallery - thank you for being here, having accepted our invitation. We hope you are enjoying the debate for what it is worth. We also wish to welcome those at home and abroad, including those on cyberspace and those listening to community radio stations throughout the country, because involvement in these processes is important.
We would like to ensure that the outcomes of what we are doing here are seen in concrete steps on the ground, as the Minister just demonstrated in the diagram of a bridge. We intend to support and to state the blinding glimpses that are obvious in this Budget Vote, not only for what it intends to do in the next year, or two or three, but also what it addresses in historical and political terms.
The central challenges of rural development and land reform are over a century old and constitute part of what defines the problematic structure of the South African economy. It is, in fact, a tragic irony, if I may say so, that mining today remains the headache it was over a century ago, instead of the opportunity it actually is and can be.
Experts tell us that it was the captains of mining and energy that influenced the then Smuts government to introduce the notorious 1913 Natives Land Act and subsequent similarly bad laws for indigenous people. The significance of us stating these historical facts is to appreciate the enormity of the task that we have to deal with and its origins.
We should not conceal the origins of the problems that we are addressing. The significant part of it is that the subsequent actions that were taken to forcefully remove people from their land, thus destroying the thriving successes of their working the land, has meant the destruction of the relationship of the people with the land and their environment - forcing them into overcrowded areas, leading to overgrazing and, of course, the destruction of the soil.
The most ridiculous part was that part of what was to emerge was that people were even prevented from holding independent jobs. For women in the Free State, for example, it was illegal not to work as domestic workers, even if they had independent means of living and so on. It created the source of what we refer to as the national grievance, which informed and inspired the struggle then, and continues to do so now.
Miners were drawn from rural areas in our country and from our neighbours in Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland and Mozambique. Some of their traditional leaders - not all of them, obviously - became recruitment agents and leaders in mining compounds, where they lived in single-sex hostels. This rural-urban dynamic, driven by the interests of capital, continues without regard to the living conditions of miners today. Is it any surprise that these were exposed in the manner in which they were during the Marikana disaster?
However, the call agreed to at Nedlac remains valid that parties commit to develop a deeper, constructive industrial relations environment, with broader dialogue on challenges faced by the sector, companies and, of course, the workforce, as well as surrounding communities. So, the work which is in progress, that was agreed to at Nedlac in an initiative that is led by the President, is absolutely necessary to produce the result we would like for change in this area.
The problematic property relations regime as it existed in 1994, when freedom dawned, is at the heart of what needs to change, and reference has already been made to this by the Minister and other speakers. The government has listened to calls that were made to remind members at the Land Summit - convened by government in 2005 - inclusive of many stakeholders and political parties, who recommended, amongst others, that the Department of Rural Development be created in order to reopen land claims. We have listened. We are implementing and responding to those requirements.
Changes in land ownership, land use and land control are a necessary obligation we have to fulfil if we are to transform our country appropriately in the economic sphere, socially and environmentally. Hon Trollip, the knowledge that we now have in terms of the land audit creates an even better environment for us to move swiftly to expand the redistribution of land to many who are ready to use it. We want to finalise and speed up claims on land for restitution. We are learning from the past, and from others, to speed up the process, improve the timing of our interventions and to coordinate our support and responsiveness to beneficiaries of land reform and restitution, including for people in communal areas. This area is work in progress. We are building relationships with a variety of knowledgeable people in universities and in NGOs, and we are improving our intergovernmental collaboration, where provincial and municipal government are playing an increasingly crucial role in the support work that we are talking about.
The Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Bill is legislation around which there has been interesting collaboration as well. It is going through a consultation process in the provinces, on behalf of the NCOP, and we hope that when it comes into effect it will compliment the existing progressive laws to reverse apartheid spatial fragmentation, to rehabilitate the destroyed fertility of the soils, and preserve our environmental resources. This Bill, when it becomes a law, will play a crucial role in driving the spatial agenda of development in both rural and urban areas. Chapter 8 of the National Developmental Plan is absolutely spot on in how it problematises this area, and with regard to its proposals, amongst others, for spatial justice. Ironically, it is true that urban metropolitan areas produce dynamism that is attractive to many. However, it is equally true that it creates inhumane conditions that drive people back and forth to rural areas. It is rural neglect that must not be allowed to be the driver of migration. In other words, if people in the rural areas oftentimes take Hobson's choice anyway, it must not be due to failure to provide in terms of their legitimate rights, which they deserve, in the hope and the often expressed suggestion that somehow, by trickle-down they will receive some benefit when the metropolitan areas grow.
Hon Trollip, let me say that I agree with those who expressed their appreciation of your contribution, sir. In appreciating your contributions, others will often envy you for the space that you are going to have with your family - your daughter and son, whom I know. That is a great thing to look forward to for people of your age. [Laughter.]
Let's deal with some issues that are crucial to the debate that we are talking about here. You see, sir, the truth is a slippery affair. We must not mistake our personal views for the truth. The truth is also a lot more complex than the assumption you made on the basis of the limited information - if we may humbly point out - that you had at that time. It can always change with the empowerment of additional information.
Your tongue slipped a little when you referred to the Chief Land Claims Commissioner as a "he". When I last checked, she hadn't changed her gender: Nomfundo Gobodo is a woman! Let me just point this out. It was a mistake! [Interjections.]