The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development concluded the last leg of nationwide public hearings on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill in Parliament yesterday.
The committee facilitated the final hearings to give stakeholders and individuals who had expressed their wish to clarify their written submissions an opportunity to do so. Stakeholders taking up this opportunity included the Minerals Council South Africa, Agri SA, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, the Agricultural Business Chamber, the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation, Inyanda National Land Movement and the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) of South Africa.
The Mineral Council of South Africa, a voluntary membership founded in 1889 representing mining companies producing about 90% of South Africa’s mineral production, submitted that it vehemently opposes mining through restrictions and imposing additional authorisations for mining on agricultural land. The council pointed out that the Bill obliges municipalities to designate all land as agricultural land, except land specifically excluded under the Bill. The committee was told that this approach is flawed, as it appears to intrude on the municipal competence with respect to municipal planning.
The council further stated that the Bill does not recognise the crucial role mining plays in job creation, export earnings and infrastructure development. In addition, the absence of exemption for mining and of defined processes for how competing mining interests will be accommodated leaves the mining industry at mercy of the Minister of Agriculture.
The Inyanda National Land Movement and the RWA, which includes black smallholder crop and livestock owners in several of provinces, including the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Free State, welcomed that the PDAL Bill recognises, “it is in the national interest to preserve and promote the sustainable development of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products for the primary purpose of sustaining and enhancing human life for the benefit of present and future generations.”
However, they had some concerns that they hope the committee will consider when taking the Bill forward. One concern is the requirement that smallholder and “emerging” producers have “adequate buffer to cater for risks related to climate variability”, which they say is exclusionary and ignores the reality of black producers, who continue to be allocated less productive land, as the best agricultural land was taken by colonial settlers.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, thanked all the stakeholders who took the time to present their views to the committee. He said their inputs will be considered when the committee finalises its report for submission in the National Assembly.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.