South Africa’s portfolio committee on agriculture, land reform, and rural development wrapped up its nationwide public hearings on the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill. The committee’s objective was to provide stakeholders and individuals an opportunity to clarify their written submissions, marking a significant milestone in the legislative process.
Among the prominent voices heard during these hearings were the Minerals Council South Africa, Agri SA, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, the Agricultural Business Chamber, the Black Agricultural Commodities Federation, Inyanda National Land Movement, and the Rural Women’s Assembly (RWA) of South Africa.
The Minerals Council South Africa, a voluntary membership organisation representing 90% of the country’s mineral production, vehemently opposed the proposed restrictions on mining activities imposed by the PDAL Bill.
The council argued that the Bill’s approach, mandating municipalities to designate all land as agricultural except for specific exclusions, encroached upon municipal planning competencies. Moreover, the council emphasised that the Bill failed to recognise mining’s integral role in job creation, export earnings, and infrastructure development.
The absence of defined processes for accommodating competing mining interests left the industry vulnerable to the arbitrary decisions of the minister of agriculture, land reform and rural development, according to their submissions.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Inyanda National Land Movement and the RWA, representing black smallholder crop and livestock owners in several provinces, appreciated the Bill’s acknowledgment of the national interest in preserving agricultural land for sustainable development.
However, they expressed concerns about the requirement for smallholder and “emerging” producers to have an “adequate buffer” for climate-related risks. They argued that this provision was exclusionary, perpetuating historical injustices by allocating less productive land to black producers due to colonial dispossession.
Chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee, Nkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders for their valuable contributions. He assured that their inputs would be meticulously considered as the committee worked on finalising its report for submission to the National Assembly.