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Comments Off on Convening of the South African Dialogue on Land Grabs on the 26 and 27 of June 2014 in Johannesburg, Constantia Hotel – Midrand.

21 June 2014

Media Statement

Convening of the South African Dialogue on Land Grabs on the 26 and 27 of June 2014 in Johannesburg, Constantia Hotel – Midrand.

Attention: Editors and Reporters

The Steering Committee of Africa Conference on Land Grabs with “Funding facilitated by the Foundation for Human Rights which is funded by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the European Union under the Sector Budget Programme – Access to Justice and the Promotion of Constitutional Rights”invites members of the media to a one and half day national South Africa Dialogue to discuss and evaluate South Africa’s position on the new trend where foreign companies and governments are buying large tracts of arable land on the African continent in general and in South Africa in particular. This new phenomenon known globally as ‘Land Grabbing’will be discussed, debated and addressed on the 26 and 27 of June in Johannesburg, Constantia Hotel in Midrand. This dialogue will serve as a build-up and preparatory consultative meeting to the very important Continental Conference on Land Grabs which will be taking place in October 2014. The purpose of the South African dialogue in the form of panel discussions, research paper findings and media visuals is to reach a common understanding of the political and economic implications of land grabs on the African Continent, the role of political players and civil society in monitoring and supporting governments policies in land governance, traditional leadership and land governance, land, women and marginalized communities and human and people’s rights and use of land. The national dialogue event is a pre-conference initiative to enable South Africa to assesses its position and approach to the planned continental conference by developing a clearer understanding of Land Grabs on the Continent and their implications on South Africa and the African continent, to consider South Africa’s development path on the continent and evaluate its investment on land, development of a South African position towards the continental land grabs conference and finally to develop a minimum land investment plan and principles for investor engagement for adoption by the Pan-African Parliament and African Countries. As such, the target communities for this dialogue will be National and Local Government, Social Movements and Political Parties dealing with land, environment, water and other human rights related issues, African Diaspora in South Africa Academics, researchers working on the broader land question and Pan African Institute Representations in South Africa.

Details of the dialogue are as follows:

Date: 26- 27 June 2014,

Time: 9:00am – 16: 30pm

Venue: Constantia Hotel, Midrand, Johannesburg
Issued by Steering Committee of the African Conference on Land Grabs

For media interviews contact the following media liaisons:
1. Mr. Millan Atam
Tel: 011 050 1527 Cell: 072 204 8901
Email: director@africalandgrabs.co.za

2. Adv. Sipho Mantula
Tel: 011 333 1730 Cell: 0847815587
Email:rasgideon@hurisa.org.za

Notes and facts for editors and reporters to consider:

1. Over 60 million hectares of Africa’s arable land has been bought or leased to foreign companies over the past three years. Often these large-scale transactions are ostensibly carried out as part of efforts against food insecurity and employment creation;
2. Africa currently holds 70% of the world’s uncultivated arable land, most of which is now being taken over at a very fast rate. It is believed the purchase of land is directly linked to an agenda to own and control Africa’s water;
3. In 2013, Nestlé’s CEO argued that water should not be a free commodity but rather a resource that should be controlled and marketed by private individuals;
4. The Steering Committee of African Conference on Land Grabs fear that twenty years from today, communities may not have access to their own fresh waters if appropriate measures are not taken to protect the interests of all stakeholders including investors and communities;
5. South Africans have committed themselves to a target of redistributing 30% of the land by the year 2014;
6. International experience of land reform programmes demonstrates that the market on its own is unable to effectively alter the pattern of ownership in favour of equity for the targeted beneficiaries of land reform, as well as in favour of broader goals of job creation and poverty reduction;
7. South Africa’s land policy should consist of programmes of state actions and land market interventions, a pro-active and state led approach characterized by well-planned and holistic but justand equitable
methods and a programme to attain the objective of a better life for all by a people’s contract to create work and to fight poverty through urban and rural development;
8. That the state should actively intervene in the land market including through, the use of expropriations, scrapping of restrictions on subdivision of land, extensive support for small-scale agriculture, reversing the growing concentration of land holdings, promoting the principle of “one farmer one farm”, changing the current large-farm-size culture, regulating foreign ownership, imposing a land tax and regulating land use to optimize social benefit;
9. The principles underlying our approach should include the decentralization of the land reform process, through participatory and people-centred methods which are area-based, planned and which integrate land and agrarian transformation into wider development priorities, particularly through the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs);
10. The Green Paper was divided into six work streams, they were the Land Management Commission ; the Office of the Valuer General; the Land Rights Management Board ; the three tier land tenure system; communal land tenure and legislation, restitution and communal property institutions; (Source for 5-9 facts :Land Summit Recommendations: Department Briefing ,Date of Meeting: 13 Sep 2005 Minutes: Land And Environment Select Committee)
11. The second Africa Century International African Writers Conference held in South Africa on the 7 and 8 November 2013 under the theme “Dispossessed Repossessed: Land Matters in African Letters” brought together African Writers and the African Diaspora to reflect on the broader socio-economic issues which concern Africans and the way they are being written about or appear in literature and writing and the associated narratives of conflict, liberation, colonialism and the politics of place and
12. A Continental Conference on Land Grabs has been scheduled for October this year in Johannesburg under the theme “Governance, Beneficiation and Sustainability: beyond rhetoric”. This conference will hopefully bring together key stakeholders from across the continent who will discuss land grabs with the objectives being to gain a better understanding and awareness of the Land sales and their long term implications for the African Continent; promote accountability and community involvement in land governance and the beneficiation that ensues for citizens, to create a platform that would enable investors, governments and communities to reach consensus on how best to ensure sustainability and mutual benefit from transactions involving land and natural resources and to strengthen land governance and cadastral capacity, by engaging African governments and the African Union on synchronizing guidelines on land governance and tenure systems.

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