Source: Department of Land Affairs
Title: SADC: Caholo: SADC meeting of ministers responsible for land
Opening statement by Dr João Samuel Caholo Deputy Executive Secretary, Southern African Development Community (SADC), Secretariat at the SADC meeting of Ministers Responsible for Land and Land Reforms, Sandton Convention Centre, South Africa
* Hon. Bradford Machila, Minister of Lands, Government of Zambia and Chairperson of SADC Ministers
* Hon. Lulama Xingwana, Minister of Agriculture and Lands, South Africa and Deputy Chairperson of SADC Ministers
* Honourable Ministers responsible for Land Affairs from member states
* Permanent Secretaries/Directors-General of Lands Ministries
* Senior government officials,
* Distinguished delegates,
* Ladies and gentlemen.
1. On behalf of the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Dr Tomáz Augusto Salomão and indeed on my own behalf, it is an honour and a privilege to address you at this SADC meeting of Ministers responsible for land affairs. This is the first meeting of Ministers of lands since SADC embarked on restructuring of its institutions and programmes in 2001. Considering the current issues on land reform, the meeting is timely and relevant as it will allow Honourable Ministers from our member states to share information and experiences and chart the way forward for this region.
2. The meeting will also deliberate on the establishment of a regional land reform facility which should support our member states in the various activities on land reform. Today, Honourable Ministers will review the progress made and recommendations put forward for the full functioning of the facility. These are critical issues and indeed require your guidance.
3. Before I continue, Honourable Ministers, allow me to extend SADC's appreciation to the government of South Africa for accepting to host this meeting and for the kind hospitality we have enjoyed since our arrival. Let me also recognise the pivotal role which the Land Affairs Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs in South Africa has played. As the Chair of SADC Land Reform Task Team together with the other Task Team members namely Mozambique, Namibia, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe, they have steered the process of establishing the SADC Land Reform Support Facility for the past two years.
4. Coming back to the task at hand. The Extra-ordinary summit on Agriculture and Food Security in May 2004 underscored the importance of access to land as a perquisite for improved agricultural production. To this effect, the Extra-ordinary summit approved the following measures:
* that member states should share experiences and best practices on land utilisation, land tenure systems, land administration and adjudication,
* member states should accelerate land distribution/policy reform programmes based on various options such as willing seller willing buyer,
* member states should promote gender equality on access to land and accelerate ongoing land policy reform programmes, and
* directed SADC secretariat to fast track the establishment of the SADC Land Reform Support Facility.
5. I am aware, Honourable Ministers that member states are implementing various programmes in line with the Extra-ordinary summit to address various land problems they face. For example, a number of countries are formulating comprehensive national land policies and laws and others are already implementing their policies. Realising that land is a cross cutting issue and a critical factor of production, there is need for ministries responsible for lands to foster linkages with other sectors to ensure land is sustainably used and that maximum returns are obtained from investments on land. The land users must also be facilitated to make maximum use of the resource.
6. Honourable Ministers, you will agree with me that land is the most basic of all resources available for social and economic development and is a key asset for poverty reduction in our region. It is central for the attainment of deeper regional integration which is the key objective of our Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP). It is also essential for the achievement of most of the objectives of intervention areas of the RISDP. As you are aware, about 70 percent of the SADC population is rural-based where agriculture and utilisation of natural resources are the main economic activities for food security and livelihood support. Agriculture alone is the largest land use and contributes to about 35 percent of the regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
7. Honourable Ministers, let me mention that the nature of land issues facing many SADC member states are related to colonial land alienation policies and, discriminatory development and investment patterns which, in most states, denied or limited access to land and the associated economic opportunities to large segments of the population. The nature and degree of the problems vary among member states depending on historical, cultural and political considerations. It is due to this diversity that the facility is built on the premise that it is not possible to recommend a "one size fits all" land policy. The facility will seek to promote sharing of information and experiences and assist member states in formulating and implementing land policies and programmes in line with their national development priorities.
8. The facility will support member states' efforts on land reform by mobilising financial, technical and human resources required for effective formulation and implementation of land reform polices and programmes. It will also provide a robust platform for exchange of information on land related issues and building of consensus on topical land issues affecting the region. The facility's approach therefore recognises, among other things, the need to enhance capacity of both state and non-state actors in the formulation and implementation of pro-poor land policies, the need to document and share information and best practices on land and the need to promote collaboration with relevant institutions.
9. Honourable Ministers, it is my expectation that you will deliberate on various land problems in the member states, the initiatives undertaken, successes and challenges. With your guidance, we expect the pace of reform on land issues in the region to accelerate.
10. At this point, allow me, to thank all Honourable Ministers for finding time to come and attend this meeting despite their demanding schedules. This is a clear manifestation of the importance you place on land issues in the development of our region. Let me also thank Department of International Development (DFID) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for their continued financial support to the establishment process of the facility and all International co-operating partners who are supporting various member states in the land sector.
11. I wish you fruitful deliberations and look forward to the outcome of this important meeting.
I thank you for your kind attention!
Issued by: Department of Land Affairs
27 March 2008