(Published - 28 August 2018)
Land redistribution is a highly contentious and often complex issue in South Africa, and one that requires deep understanding and sophisticated skills.
This is why African National Congress (ANC) Member of Parliament Andrew Madella took up a Postgraduate Diploma in Poverty, Land & Agrarian Studies at the University of the Western Cape’s Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies (PLAAS) in 2017. Madella will be among hundreds of students who will be celebrating the completion of their studies at the University’s August graduation ceremony.
“As an MP dealing with the land reform issue to ensure equitable access to land, restitution as well as tenure reform as set out in Section 25 of the Constitution, I felt the need to broaden and deepen my understanding and knowledge of the challenges confronting our country at policy and implementation level,” Madella explains.
Madella is on crutches and has had to overcome some adversities to complete his diploma. However, he brought someone along to help him around campus. “He is a dedicated student - an activist who does community work in the Buffelsjacht community on weekends. Our institute is proud to have him as a student,” said Professor Moenieba Isaacs, PLAAS Academic Co-ordinator and Acting Director.
In light of his graduation, Madella believes he is better equipped in his policy making and oversight role as MP, specifically in relation to land reform and agricultural development. “I feel much more grounded, confident and better equipped as an MP in performing oversight roles in respect of the two portfolio committees where I am currently deployed. I certainly will encourage my colleagues to consider enrolling for the same course at PLAAS.”
He was born in Cradock and contracted polio at the tender age of nine months. After his family moved to Prince Albert, and then to Elsies River, he was involved in establishing the first Student Representative Council at Uitsig Senior Secondary School, and was expelled from school several times due to his activism. But, thanks to the support of other learners and teachers, he always returned to the classroom during the school boycotts of 1980 and 1981.
Madella has worked for many organisations, including the Elsies River Student Coordinating Committee and the Elsies River Youth Movement, and he was part of a group that worked towards the establishment of the Elsies River Community Advice Office in 1985. He joined the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), served in Cosatu, and was a local government councilor before he was sworn in as MP in 2005.
He has been the Western Cape Provincial Chairperson and Secretary-General of Disabled People South Africa, a member of the National Development Agency, Nedlac, the Employment Equity Commission, as well as a member of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology Council.
After the 2014 general elections, he was deployed to the Rural Development and Land Reform Portfolio Committee and later to the Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries Portfolio Committee.