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NIC Spotlight on the Role of Communal Land in Agricultural Development

  • 15 May 2019
  • 1823
  •  press-release

The panel consisted of: Nkosi Minenkulu Joyi, traditional leader of Baziya Traditional Council and Royal House of Joyi; Gloria Serobe, executive director of Whiphold, CEO of Wipcapital; John Webber, director and national head of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyer’s Real Estate; Sinelizwi Fakade, Farmer Development Programme at Grain SA; and Dan Kriek, president of Agri SA.

Nkosi Minenkulu set the ball rolling by saying the rural communities in the Eastern Cape are an eyesore due to the legacy of the past, which left them without any infrastructure like roads, bridges across the many rivers in the area, sanitation processing plants and much more. “In addition, we also have to deal with the socio-economic legacies of the past, however I want to make a call on business to invest in the Eastern Cape.”

Sinelizwi echoed Nkosi Minenkulu’s sentiments saying that the Grain SA’s projects in the Eastern Cape have proven that the area “will probably be agriculture’s next big thing, in terms of grain production.” He also invited business “to come and explore the area for themselves.”

Gloria shared the success story of her organisation where a women-based company have made a success of farming maize and soybeans, despite not having security of tenure. She also made a direct plea to Nkosi Minenkulu saying: “You and the government must sort out the issue of traditional land ownership.”

From the panel discussion there appears to be confusion as to the exact powers and functions of traditional leaders in terms of the Constitution and in terms of government ownership of the same land. 

Nkosi Minenkulu claimed that political parties tend to make grand claims about land ownership to serve their own needs during election time. The panel agreed that government ownership trumped traditional leadership ownership.
Although John made the point that they have established a model where security of tenure is established on a long-term lease basis, it is still very difficult to buck tradition and community values.

Dan said that currently there is a big drive from Agri SA to get involved. “We have always had a policy, but we’ve never been deeply or actively involved. Over the last year we have been meeting communities and traditional leaders to better understand their needs and it has been a humbling experience.”

For an amazing insight to the issues facing communities and traditional land ownership, go to to view the full programme.

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