The question of access to land is not restricted to South Africa though it is of course sensitive given that from 1926 until independent in 1993 black people were legally prevented from owning land. Mngcunube’s focus is on what happens to the land after a new owner, a black South African, gets the land and needs to farm effectively. In addition we are interested in the use of Commonage around rural towns and the commercial use of land for farming by all.
Land Redistribution and Restitution
Our CEO was Manager of the Land reform Pilot Project in Free State province before taking up the CEO function at Mngcunube on a full time basis. This enabled Mngcunube to be at the forefront of developing a mentorship system for new and emerging farmers and we have applied this widely some of which was the subject of a feature on the documentary TV programme ‘Special Assignment’. (See also Articles and Reviews on this site).
The land reform process involves all work leading up to transfer of land such as deed scans, formation of ownership structures such as joint ventures, establishment of commonage systems, organisational development and business plan development. Mngcunube has carried out these functions as follows:
- Free State Land Reform Pilot: 168 transfers
- Free State: 140 transfers
- Northern Cape: 35 transfers
- North West: 41 transfers
Commercial Farmer Support
Prior to the land reform pilot experience Mngcunube’s CEO was a commercial famer himself but also as a Farmer Support Division Manager in Western Tembuland on an irrigation project for approximately 3000 employees.
The experience with the land reform process as well as the strong farming background within Mngcunube has afforded us a close insight not only into mentoring but also on what needs to happen both before and after land transfer to make it a commercial success. In particular we have taken on a number of Business Planning tasks in this regard in the Free State and the Eastern Cape as well as a farmer support project near Elliot financed by Standard Bank.
One of Mngcunube’s first steps was a major support programme covering over 40 emergent farmers and groups on their own land and on commonage land in the northern Free State. This was in fact a ‘rescue mission’ because most of the land owners had agricultural enterprises that were doing very badly and ere about t be closed down by the Land Bank. In all but a few bases this situation was turned around through having faming insight accompanied by facilitation and mentoring skills.
Mngcunube then carried out an appraisal of 128 farms in the former Qwa-Qwa area. This was done on behalf of the Department of Land Affairs (then). This Report is used today.
Commonage in rural areas is often the only potential resource for the poor, who should be given priority for its use. Productive use of the commonage extends benefits beyond direct returns to users. It adds to the local economy, develops skills and knowledge, promotes a sense purpose and self-esteem among users who are unemployed, and can serve as a stepping stone for those aspiring to get land through land reform financing. Mngcunube has a tried and tested approach that builds successful and responsible use of commonage. In essence user groups form an association that rents the land from the Municipality.
Mngcunube has carried out commonage development projects in the Free State and the Ukhahlamba District of the Eastern Cape at the following localities.
Naledi Local Municipality (Dewetsdorp, Wepener, Vanstadensrus (current)
Ukhahlamba: Jamestown and Aliwal North (Maletswai), Barkly East (Senqu), Venterstad and Burgersdorp (Gariep) and Ugie (Elundini) in 2004/5