COSATU welcomes the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land Bill now before Parliament

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes the Preservation and Development of Agricultural Land (PDAL) Bill currently before Parliament.  The Federation participated extensively on it with the Department of Agriculture and Land Reform at Nedlac.  We support the Bill in full and urge Parliament to expedite its passage.

The Bill is a long overdue intervention to ensure the nation’s food security.  South Africa is fortunate to have a well-developed and highly diversified agricultural sector that ensures the nation’s food requirements in most instances.  The development of this sector has taken centuries to build and must be jealously guarded.

Agriculture and the food value chain provide employment for more than 1 million workers and is one of the largest and most strategic economic sectors.  The sector is under threat for a variety of reasons and has seen many farmers, emerging and commercial, struggle to survive and often simply forfeiting their farms when they can no longer afford to pay their debts.  Many municipalities in desperation for funds, rezone agricultural land to private developers building shopping malls etc., due to the higher rates such developments yield.

If agricultural land is not preserved for food production, the nation’s food security will be at risk, as well over thousands of badly needed jobs.  If we continue to allow agricultural land to be rezoned recklessly, we will collapse any efforts at effecting land reform.  This is a key developmental planning Bill whose passage by Parliament must be supported.

Key progressive provisions in the Bill include:

  • A Registry and system for grading agricultural land to determine what land is most suitable for which type of crops and livestock.  This will help guide emerging farmers and support their endeavours.  It is key that all levels of government have an accurate database of arable agricultural land if they are to preserve it for agricultural development.
  • Provincial Agricultural Sector Plans that will be key to ensuring provincial departments plan properly and lead agricultural development initiatives.  These will enable stakeholders and national government to hold provincial governments accountable.
  • Protected Agricultural Areas will compel the relevant spheres of government to preserve highly arable land, in particular the Departments responsible for Agriculture and Land.
  • Rezoning Processes empowering the Minister and government to protect and preserve agricultural land and play an oversight and authorizing role over municipalities’ agricultural land rezoning processes.
  • Advisory Appeal Panel, whilst COSATU supports the establishment of the Panel, it is critical representation from organised labour be included to ensure the voice of agricultural workers is felt in the Panel’s work.
  • Inspectors need to be empowered to issue compliance orders to ensure the progressive objectives of the Bill are implemented and offending municipalities are held accountable and dealt with.

COSATU supports the PDAL Bill due to its progressive and long overdue provisions.  It will help ensure the nation’s food security, national sovereignty, a key economic and export sector with over 1 million jobs.  We urge Parliament to strengthen, prioritise and pass this important Bill as Parliament concludes its work ahead the 2024 elections.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687