Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille at the State of the Nation at Parliament in Cape Town, June 2014.
The Western Cape boasts a 62% success rate for “land reform farms”, compared with a 92% failure rate in the rest of the country, Premier Helen Zille said in her State of the Province Address (SOPA) on Thursday.
“This is a remarkable success rate, given the agricultural challenges,” said Zille.
She said the province had already conducted a land reform project audit, ahead of a call for one by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address on Friday.
She said farmers in the province were succeeding – in spite of avian flu and the worst drought in 400 years – through 11 partnerships and provincial and national agricultural support programmes.
She said the national government’s current approach to land acquisition was to allow for the purchase of the land on the open market, and to then distribute it.
However, this only allowed for 30-year leaseholds for black farmers, with an option to renew for another 20 years.
They, therefore, had to wait 50 years before they received their title deeds, and this made it hard for the farmers to raise financial capital for equipment, inputs and other costs, Zille said.
“The Western Cape government wholeheartedly supports the position that [farmers] get title deeds, but 50 years is too long and cuts them off from funds,” she said.
“It is national government policy to withhold titles from black farmers, which is deeply regrettable,” Zille said, to howls of disagreement from the opposition ANC benches, who heckled her throughout her two-hour address.
Zille said that, in terms of providing housing, the Woodstock Hospital and Helen Bowden Hospital would be rezoned for this purpose.
‘Treasury has literally turned off their funding tap’
Five sites – which belonged to the national government – had been identified in the Cape Metro region, for an extra 100 000 affordable housing units in mixed use developments.
“Our plea to the national government is to release these game-changing properties and we [will] apply the better living model on a scale unwitnessed in South Africa,” said Zille.
She laid the blame for slowed down water augmentation projects and policing squarely at the national government’s door.
Zille said a promise last year to deploy the SA National Defence Force to Manenberg to bring gangsterism under control had come to nothing because Police Minister Fikile Mbalula had claimed that gangsterism had been “neutralised”.
She had written to him to get more information on this, and about what she regarded as severe under-resourcing of police officers in some of Cape Town’s most crime ridden suburbs, such as Khayelitsha, Nyanga and Gugulethu.
She said the extension of the wall of the Clanwilliam Dam to increase storage capacity had also ground to a halt because of the Department of Water and Sanitation.
Zille also accused the national government had also not made funding available for the “Day Zero” crisis.
“The National Treasury has literally turned off their funding tap,” she said.
The City of Cape Town had to use R5.5bn of its own money for water augmentation projects over the next five years.
“No local government should have to shoulder the burden,” said Zille.
She said the R6bn set aside by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba for drought relief and infrastructure of the five provinces hit by the drought will have to be shared between them, and “will hardly touch sides”.
‘The more water there is, the more jobs there are’
She thanked residents and businesses in Cape Town for saving water to avoid the dam levels from dropping to an average 13.5% which would trigger the Day Zero plans.
“That is when most people will have to queue for water, instead of sourcing it from the taps in their homes,” she warned.
“We can do it if we stick to 50l per person per day,” she said. “But we cannot let up now.”
She said water was important to the province because more than 80% of business in the Western Cape was in the agricultural sector and more than 50% of people in non-metro towns were employed in this sector.
“The more water there is, the more jobs there are,” she said.
In response to her address, the Western Cape ANC’s acting chair and leader of the opposition in the legislature, Khaya Magaxa, said that Zille’s “blaming behaviour” in regard to the ANC at a national level remained the same as always.
“Instead of taking responsibility for her own failures, especially around management of water, she is blaming the ANC, the same ANC that rescued this country from Day Zero,” he said.
Magaxa said it had been national leaders who negotiated with farm owners to release water from their dams.
Zille’s speech will be debated in another sitting on Friday morning.