On Friday, 08 March 2024, the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Sihle Zikalala, MP, visited the University of Venda (UNIVEN). The purpose of his visit was to engage with the staff and students on the Expropriation Bill. The engagement with the UNIVEN community ties with the on-going process of government’s consultation with communities about the Expropriation Bill that is being worked on by the Council of Provinces. The Public Lecture was intended to clarify and emphasise the fact that the Expropriation Bill has a clause that indicates zero compensation when it is passed into law.

The Minister paid tribute to the leadership of the University of Venda for being torchbearers of transformation, empowerment, and equality. He expressed this when reflecting on the remarks made by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin on behalf of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Bernard Nthambeleni.
Minister Zikalala said that the Public Lecture takes place on International Women’s Day which reminds the people about their collective responsibility to dismantle patriarchy, eliminate sexism, and achieve gender equality. At the heart of the scourge of Gender-Based violence that afflicts communities, is the persistent challenge of gender inequality and marginalisation of women.
He indicated that “as we take a closer look at our journey of land reform programme and the Expropriation Bill, let us remember that our programmes and policies must pay particular attention to women.”
The Minister highlighted that the Expropriation Bill under discussion was drafted by the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure to replace the Expropriation Act of 1975 which is not in line with the Constitution and transformation imperatives. This was after extensive consultation and with assistance of constitutional experts. It is therefore anchored within the property clause in Section 25 of the Constitution.
He reminded the audience that for centuries, the subjugated majority of South Africans were denied the right to own property dating back to colonial times, the 1913 and 1936 Land Acts, and the Group Areas Act which saw many people displaced of prime property through forced removals and dumped in slums and ghettos, by the colonial and apartheid governments.
The Minister articulated that throughout our history, land has remained an emotive topic and a source of protracted conflict.
He explained that the Bill has undergone Parliamentary Public Participation processes in the form of Public Hearings, conducted by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The Minister also highlighted on the three-tier land reform programme namely: Land Redistribution, Land Tenure Reform, and Land Restitution.
In conclusion the Minister said, “It is in our hands to realise land reform in South Africa that can make all of us to say that indeed, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white.”
In addition, he said “We look to progressive institutions like UNIVEN to ensure that this Bill is effective and helps us realize the vision of a transformed South Africa where all our people, regardless of race, gender or income can feel that they indeed belong to this rich and beautiful country.”

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor Corporate Services, Dr Robert Martin prefaced his welcome remarks by sharing some highlights about the University’s strategic direction. He indicated that the University of Venda has long been a beacon of hope, a place where dreams take flight, and future leaders are shaped. He substantiated this statement by expressing that a large number of the Minister’s delegation are graduates of the University of Venda, including the two MEC’s who were in attendance and the Deputy Director General from the National Government. Dr Martin provided context for the mission and positioning statement of UNIVEN
in the current Strategic Plan which envision the University of Venda that has impact and relevance as an institution of higher learning.
Dr Martin further expressed that the strategic location of UNIVEN within the UNESCO, Vhembe Biosphere Reserve with a unique rich biodiversity, offers the University a remarkable advantage to leverage the region’s rich biodiversity and unique environmental context for the development of relevant and impactful programmes.
He indicated that this public lecture is crucial, hence for so many years land expropriation and land reform have been a contentious issue in our country. He alluded that this engagement came at the right time when we are gearing ourselves up for the general elections. “This will in our view enrich people’s understanding of how land will be redistributed for the benefit of communities around us, added Dr Martin.

The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s Deputy Director General Policy and Research, Mr Livhuwani Ndou, while rendering purpose of the event, provided an update on the current status of the Expropriation Bill.

The MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison in Limpopo, Mrs Florence Radzilani in her message of support said “We have identified land reform as a priority of this democratic Government, because we have witnessed the far-reaching ramifications, caused by land dispossession amongst our people. As the breadbasket of the SADC Region, and largely the Continent, we remain committed to ensuring that this process will not harm this Country’s economy and will be discharged delicately. If anything, the land expropriation programme must ensure an equitable share of the land and improve the economic conditions of the majority of the people of this Country.”

Student representatives also add their voices to the Minister’s Public Lecture. The SRC Secretary General, Ngelekanyi Maduwa appreciated the government for giving the University a piece of land in Makhado. He pleaded with the Minister to assist with the installation of solar panel systems to address power outage challenge. The Secretary of SASCO UNIVEN branch, Nkateko Shivambu urged the government to continue supporting the institutions of higher learning in their endeavour to continue providing quality education.The University Registrar, Dr Joel Baloyi on behalf of the University Management conveyed his gratitude to the Minister for such a thought-provoking Public Lecture. He also thanked participants (students and staff) for their presence and contribution to the Public Lecture.

Issued by:
Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication
University of Venda
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710
Date: 11 March 2024

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