“I would like to congratulate all recipients of title deeds today. Land ownership is an essential part of human dignity, which is guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. While the issue of land is understandably an emotional one, it should really not be so. When the land question is discussed it should not be met with consternation and anxiety. We should all work together to address this issue,” said Suresh Naidoo, South African Sugar Association (SASA) Vice-Chairman.
The title deed handover and launch of the sugarcane project event, held at Sakhuxolo Sports Ground in Mdlebeni area which falls under Ilembe District Municipality, was attended by Agriculture and Rural Development MEC Themba Mthembu, Naidoo, INkosi Gumede and other dignitaries. The Qwabe Enkanini Farming Enterprise focuses on sugarcane, banana, macadamia and flowers. The Communal Property Association (CPA) comprises 180 households and 1 104 beneficiaries.
“It is with a deep sense of joy and pride to launch the Qwabe Nkanini sugarcane project and to officially hand over title deeds for land valued at R140 million to the Nkanini community,” said DARD MEC Mthembu. The Nkanini community was dispossessed of their land rights in 1971 by the apartheid government, he added. “After South Africa became a democracy and began the process of land restitution, the late INkosi TB Gumede lodged a land claim on behalf of his community. The claimants opted for land restoration instead of financial compensation,” said MEC Mthembu.
Last year, during the DARD project identification process, the sugar industry submitted and presented proposals on behalf of land reform and small scale growers. DARD approved an amount of R55 167 854.23 for 11 land reform and small-scale growers towards cane development, ratoon management and infrastructure development projects across the KwaZulu-Natal. In March this year, an amount of R27 053 348 was transferred to SASA as a first tranche for five projects and in June this year, R5 574 993 was transferred to SASA for Ugu projects as part of the second tranche. With specific reference to Qwabe Nkanini Enterprise, a total of 117 jobs have been created/maintained through this DARD funding initiative.
“Sugarcane is the largest component of the CPA’s farming initiative. This is why we are also here today to launch the growth of the Qwabe Nkanini sugarcane project. This project highlights the importance of partnerships in growing the agricultural sector. I want to thank the South African Sugar Association for being our partners in this endeavour,” said MEC Mthembu.
Naidoo also hailed the partnership with government. “We commit ourselves to working together with government and all other relevant stakeholders. The South African sugar industry has transferred more than 21% of freehold land under cane from white to black owners since 1994 off a base of 5%. This industry’s proactive stance on land reform, which commenced in 1996, has been the foundation for the achievement to date. Let us make our country work,” he said.