The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development wrapped up its oversight visit to Gwatyu with a session with the provincial and national departments of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (ALRRD) and the department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
After hearing the perspectives of all the stakeholders during the week, the committee felt that the various departments involved needed an opportunity to respond to the issues arising from the meetings held with the king and other traditional authorities and at the public hearing.
The committee advised the Department of ALRRD that it required a multi-faceted approach to resolve the issues at Gwatyu.
It should consider the existing laws and policy frameworks, and work with haste to resolve the impasse. This must be done to avoid a court case against it. After meeting the group of beneficiaries who have formed themselves into an association, the committee informed the department that they need to meet with these beneficiaries to come to an amicable solution. These beneficiaries also have beneficial rights to the land.
The committee further advised the department to obtain the Certificate of Chieftancy for the Gwatyu area and to check the records to determine the allocation of land to the amaTshatshu Traditional Authority and other beneficiaries.
The department also needs to check if title deeds for the area have been given to any of the beneficiaries. The department needs to familiarise itself with the report of Judge Heath and determine if there are any resolutions that need to be acted upon.
The committee encouraged the department to look at job creation in the area.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development needs to mobilise other departments to bring services such as water, electricity and gated roads for the benefit of the communities living in Gwatyu.
Programmes such as the Narysec and the National Youth Development Agency programmes will enable the youth to obtain skills and be employable.
The chairperson, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela cautioned the Department that they operate in the space of the traditional authorities.
Although the farms are owned by the department, the land is on Amashatshu land.
The Department must collaborate with the traditional authorities when conducting the land inquiry and must respect the role of the traditional leadership.
The committee also informed the department that they must look at the reasons why those who had leased farms have stopped paying since 1998.
Did they stop paying because department is looking to evict them or is the department going to release the land to them, the Chairperson asked.
The department must keep the committee informed on the progress of its interventions and the land inquiry regularly.