By Lelethu Mgedezi in response to an original article at News24
After the 2019 national election, there has been much positivity around the appointment of Thoko Dikiza to the newly merged ministry of Land and Agriculture from interested parties and stakeholders. They, however, have not failed to highlight the herculean task that lies ahead for the portfolio, particularly because it includes the contentious land reform issue.
The general consensus is that the newly appointed minister is adequately skilled to lead the ministry, owing to her previous experience in this role. The commentators have noted the challenges and equally proposed solutions.
The coordination between land and agricultural reform must be clearly and carefully crafted as both sectors present challenges that need viable solutions. A land audit must be conducted to ensure policy is effectively implemented. The ministry will have to address environmental and financial challenges that plague the sector.
Tackling land acquisition for redistribution, but legislative framework must be fully exploited to promote equitable access to land redistribution. The interventions need to extend to urban and rural land with cooperative governance and traditional affairs factoring in significantly with a clear goal.
Proposal to strike a partnership with all relevant stakeholders like the government, private sector and emerging farmers as this is where progress can emerge. Certain government departments, in their overlapping mandates will have to be structurally aligned, while there will be a need to expedite the promulgation of Bills that promote enforcing rights and accountability.
Properties held in state entities must be transferred to the beneficiaries so they give meaningful livelihood sustainability to the beneficiaries. Equity schemes also need to be open to benefit emerging black farmers.
In the midst of climate change, there needs to be a remodelling of agricultural development to adapt to climate change.
Land redistribution claims must be expedited and the state must put resources into academic institutions that will impart agricultural skills. The rights of this living in communal lands have to be protected.
Lelethu Mgedezi is an attorney who holds an LLM in International Trade Law from Stellenbosch University, an LLB from the University of Fort Hare and an Introduction to Thought Leadership for Africa’s Renewals certificate from the Thabo Mbeki African Leadership Institute (UNISA). As a student, she formed a sorority aimed at empowering female students mainly with strategies of advancing their livelihood. She has served her articles in public and private institutions. She worked for the Legal Aid South Africa where she mainly offered free legal services to clients in criminal and civil matters. She then ceded her articles to Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys where she was mainly involved in civil litigation. She also has vast experience in legal insurance where she assisted policy holders with legal advice, informal mediation and policy claims. Her engagement in civil society commenced at the Women’s Legal Centre where her key roles were to offer free legal advice to women and to identify potential class action cases for developing public law jurisprudence for the benefit of women.
She is passionate about the development of the livelihood of vulnerable groups and the previously disadvantaged, using the law. She has joined the LRC as an attorney to work in the Constitutional Litigation Unit.