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Agriculture and Land Administration budget speech: Mpumalanga
MEC for Agriculture and Land Administration: Dina Pule

Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature
29 May 2007
Dina Pule


Madam Speaker, we are standing before this house today a few days after the celebration of Africa Day by the continent, South Africa as a country and by this province last Friday, 25 May 2007, marking the 44 years of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity. We wish to congratulate Ghana for their 50th Anniversary of Independence.

It is therefore proper for us to remember the greatest sons of Africa, torches of the light of freedom in the continent, such as Nkwame Nkrumah, Mwalimu Nyerere, Chief Albert Luthuli, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Samora Machel, Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela.

"Though I speak of Africa as a single entity, it is divided in many ways by race, language, history and custom; by political, economic and ethnic frontiers. But in truth, despite these multiple divisions, Africa has a single common purpose and a single goal to overcome the legacy of economic backwardness; all Africa has this single aim; our goal is a united Africa in which the standards of life and liberty are constantly expanding; in which the ancient legacy of illiteracy and disease is swept aside, in which the dignity of man is rescued from beneath the heels of colonialism which have trampled it."

Honourable members, I just lifted an extract from the speech made by Nobel Laureate Inkosi Albert Luthuli during his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo on the 11 December 1961.

In order for us to advance Africa's goal of a better life for her people, we heeded Oliver Tambo's call of 1971 that says "Let us arm ourselves with the willpower and fearlessness of Shaka: the endurance and vision of Moshoeshoe: the courage and resourcefulness of Sekhukhuni; the tenacity and valour of Hintsa; the military initiative and guerrilla tactics of Maqoma, the farsightedness and dedication of S P Makgatho, Sol Plaatjies, Langalibalele Dube, Isaka ka Seme, W B Rubusana, Meshach Pelem, Alfred Mangena, Paramount Chief Letsie II of Lesotho and all founding-fathers of the African National Congress. Let the dream of Moshoeshoe who cherished a great alliance of African people to resist their separate conquest come true in our lifetime."

Madam Speaker, we are renewing our pledge in a national partnership to create a better life for all. We intend fighting poverty by making agriculture fashionable, whilst greening the province and ensuring that communities make money from waste. We are mindful of the warning in the Book of Proverbs that he who mocks the poor shows contempt for their maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished.

Most of our people see and appreciate the positive strides that the democratic government has made thus far. In their hearts and minds freedom has come to symbolise their dream of today being better than yesterday because services are being delivered, their cousin has just received a house, their uncle has just received implements and inputs to till the land and their daughter will be a veterinarian in the not so distant future.

We are however mindful of the challenges ahead. The farsightedness of Pixley Ka Seme and the hard work of Gert Sibande tell us that much still needs to be done to create conditions in which all can thrive irrespective of who they are and where they stay.

Honourable Speaker, with the willpower and fearlessness of Shaka we will meet the challenge of giving back our children a world of beauty and wonder by protecting the environment. We will ensure that for generations to come streams will be streams, rivers remain sources of water and that water scarcity remains impossible.

With the courage and resourcefulness of Sekhukhuni we will continue mobilising communities behind environmental management. Creatively and patiently we will continue to invite industry to play its role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Industry stands to benefit a lot from this endeavour.

In the past financial year we achieved notable successes which includes amongst others the planting of 7 916 trees in the province, environmental improvement of 117 schoolyards and community areas in partnership with stakeholders. We were able to complete the Gert Sibande Integrated Waste Management Plan, and the Mpumalanga Biodiversity Conservation Plan.

Mpumalanga has taken a leading role in implementing the resolution of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. We have held a conference on the Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, action plans stemming from this conference have been drawn, the arduous task of implementation has already begun.

With the tenacity and valour of Hintsa we moved away from the realm of high and technical language into the sphere of common sense and understandable language. We are overcoming the historical thinking that has been inculcated into our people that because they are poor, therefore they lack the skill, knowledge and capital to deal with their problems. The belief that a solution will come from somewhere is slowly diminishing. Siyatentela. A belief that sustainable development is everyone's concern is emerging on the horizon.

As known trailblazers and travellers of the untravelled road we have committed ourselves to extract as much economic value as we can out of waste; with the military initiative and guerrilla tactics of Maqoma we intend reducing waste generation and disposal by 50% and 25% respectively by 2012.

Recycling is to be the order and practice of every household in the province. Greening Mpumalanga requires everyone to be a green consumer by purchasing material that is environmentally friendly.

One of the fundamental challenges our country faces is addressing the inequities of the past. These inequities are most glaring in terms of access to land and land rights. It should be remembered that the African majority were forced to have 13 percent of the land whilst the white minority had 87 percent prior to 1994.

Government's approach to this issue is premised on our constitutional principles of property rights. However the willing buyer and seller principle is not assisting the country to move with the speed needed to realise the goal of delivering 30 percent of agricultural land to the African majority by 2010. The principle cannot mediate between the majority's hunger for land and the minority's quest to protect what has come to be its livelihood; as a result in the past eleven years we have witnessed less than desirable delivery of hectors of land.

As an attempt to circumvent this hiccup, the Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs Honourable Lulu Xingwana introduced intervention mechanisms which include among others the concept of Proactive Acquisition of Land whose primary objective is to fast-track access to land, particularly for the previously disadvantaged individuals. Mpumalanga has excelled in implementing this concept. Mpumalanga has also excelled in the delivery of land restitution in the year 2006; Land Claims Commissioner Mr Peter Mhangwani and his staff members were able to spend the entire budget allocated to the province and the additional allocations from other provinces.

Notable good practices are emerging out of the land reform process where we see the established commercial farmers joining hands to help new beneficiaries after acquiring land. South Africans have a tendency to rise to the occasion, 'As South Africa is alive with possibilities.' In Emalahleni, Honourable speaker, a farmer sold his farm to help in the fight against HIV and AIDS to a project that helps with food production for people living with the virus. The farmer remained on the farm as manager whilst the new owners were learning the ropes. We wish to encourage other farmers to follow in his example.

The Matsafeni Trust, one of the biggest land reform projects has refuted criticism of land reform by gaining Euro Gap accreditation, an envy of many commercial farmers; the accreditation is for free trade with European countries. The Euro Gap accreditation is only granted after the applicant has fulfilled strict requirements and standards of the European Union Trade Commission. Part of the requirement is to meet high production standards, quality assurance, sound environmental practices just to name a few.

Mpumalanga is also home to one of the biggest land claim settlements in the country, Tenbosch in Nkomazi, the value of this claim is R1,1 billion and involves 32 387 hectares of commercial agricultural land. We believe that the beneficiaries will follow the example of Matsafeni by going beyond the current yield of the land.

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