The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform and Agriculture has reaffirmed its commitment to prioritise women, youth and people with disabilities in the allocation of land.

The IMC emphasised its commitment during a meeting chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza on Friday.

“Youth and women constitute the majority of our population, and together with people with disabilities, have long been economically marginalised. Therefore, measures adopted by our government in allocating land must place these categories of people at the forefront,” said Mabuza.

At the meeting, the Deputy President called for humane yet decisive action by authorities and other land custodians in responding to the recent spate of illegal land invasions.

The meeting considered progress on the State Land Allocation plan, challenges including land invasions, as well as the Beneficiary Selection and Allocation Policy. The Inter-Ministerial Committee also considered two bills, namely the Land Court Bill and Expropriation Bill, for processing to Cabinet and finally Parliament.

Reflecting on land invasions, the meeting mandated the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to consider setting up an internal conflict resolution mechanism to allow government to amicably address land disputes, especially those related to land invasions.

The Land Court Bill — whose purpose is to enhance and promote access to land on an equitable basis, promote land reform as a means of redressing the effects of past discrimination and facilitate land justice in the country — was also discussed.

The meeting noted progress made and supported the submission of the Expropriation Bill to Parliament.

The meeting also reflected on farm murders, which affects farmers, farm workers, farm dwellers and the rural communities alike. The meeting called on the police to take a preventative stance on farm murders by addressing underlying issues that lead to violence in farming communities.

The meeting also noted that the issue of farm murders discourages aspirant farmers from entering the agricultural sector, thus threatening its sustainability and contribution to the economy.

The IMC will discuss this matter further at its next meeting. –