Claimants, farmers: Too little for land

2010-05-11 00:00

THE R97 million budgeted by the provincial land claims commission this financial year has raised concerns with the landless and farming communities, who believe it is too little to effect real change in view of the many claims that have piled up with the commission.

The KwaZulu-Natal commission recently revealed that the budget has already been allocated to existing commitments.

During the last financial year, the Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinthi placed a moratorium on land claims due to a lack of funds. He also announced that the department would miss its target to redistribute an estimated 30% of commercial land to black farmers by 2014.

The provincial spokesperson for the commission, Nokuthokoza Ndlela, stopped short of conceding that the allocated budget is too little, saying the R97 million given to the department has already been absorbed by prior commitments.

She said despite the shortage of funds, they will continue to acquire land, as it is a “core function”.

Ndlela also urged people whose land is under claim to continue investing in that land instead of waiting for the outcomes of claims.

“The government pays market related prices for land and the people should continue investing in their land even if it is under claim because as government we will not pay millions of rand for land that is no longer productive.”

Mbhekiseni Mavuso, spokesperson for the Rural Network, said the budget will not make any changes to the lives of the many people who need the land.

“This amount will not help because there are too many claims waiting to be settled and the land owners are charging astronomical prices for their land.”

Sandy la Marque, CEO of farmers’ union KwaNalu, said the organisation is extremely concerned about the budget because it is clearly insufficient in view of the large number of claims with the commission.

She said the budget made it clear that the government is failing landless people, not the land owners as is believed.

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