STATEMENT ISSUED BY MTUTUZELI MBADI, MP
UDM SPOKESPERSON FOR ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM
is the destruction of productive land in dry areas mainly because of misuse or
overuse, in other words land degradation. The fundamental cause is unsustainable
human activity. Fortunately, environmental issues in South Africa, like in other
parts of the world; is moving closer to the centre of the socio-political stage.
It is vital that South Africans realise the huge implications (social, economic
and political) pertaining to land and development.
Ninety percent (90%) of our Country is prone to desertification. In a country
where the previously disadvantaged had access to a very small portion of land,
it is especially concerning that it is this very portion that suffers most from
Of the many issues that confront environmental managers in South Africa, land is
probably the most emotionally and politically charged.
Overwhelming problems confront South Africans living in rural areas. Land
degradation in our rural areas is aggravated by no access to potable water and
lack of basic sanitation. Energy poverty also plays a role, the task of
collecting material for generating energy has severe social and health costs
which accrue primarily to rural women and children and if the land is poor,
these people cannot meet their energy demands. Woman in particular often do not
have access to the best land, therefore they are forced to depend on the most
fragile areas and resources. As a result of the loss of productive land that can
no longer sustain the population, people migrate to cities, contributing to the
many social, economic and environmental pressures facing urban areas.
The UDM believes that inadequate land reform must be addressed through
investment incentives, aggressive redistribution of state land and market-driven
access to land. This will achieve land reform much faster than expropriation by
The integrated nature of this problem requires an integrated problem approach.
In order to reconcile the short-term and long-term requirements, solutions and
innovations will need to emerge from within local and rural communities with the
financial and technical support of Government and the private sector.
Although the inter-linkages between agricultural production, poverty alleviation
and environmental protection are widely understood and accepted, most policies
developed to address desertification lack co-ordination and stem from separate
initiatives in the economic, social and environmental spheres.
However, a major initiative is necessary if the problems of the long-neglected
communal areas are to be addressed. It is hoped that the National Action
Programme to Combat Desertification will lead the way.
Prof Mtutuzeli Mbadi, MP
UDM Spokesperson for Environmental Affairs and Tourism
16 June 2000