Litany of farm failures

2010-12-28 00:00

MINISTER of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti met land beneficiaries in Durban at the weekend to seek solutions to the problems that have plagued the land reform process over the years.

Earlier this year, the minister revealed that at least 90% of the farms given to land beneficiaries since the beginning of the process have collapsed.

Among the causes identified for the failures were that the claimants were underprepared for the task of managing the farms and that there was a lack of after-claim support from the government to help them.

At the meeting, Nkwinti also outlined several problems that have crippled the process.

These included problems with legal entities such the trusts that are managing the land on behalf of the claimants.

Their failure to manage the land effectively has contributed to the land reform problems, he said.

Another problem was inadequate post-settlement support such as training.

Nkwinti said that because of the lack of access to finance and markets, a large number of the beneficiaries have not been able to use the land to its maximum potential.

He said the boundary disputes between amakhosi and legal entities entrusted with custodianship of the land have also led to increased tensions and stalled the progress on a number of projects handed over to communities.

He said there is also tension between the new land owners who have acquired land through the restitution programme and labour tenants.

There are also problems with the verification of the claimants as some people left out of the process have complained.

Many land claimants have also not received their title deeds.

Nkwinti emphasised the need to review certain aspects of land reform policies to come up with more pragmatic solutions for the programme.

“The first question we must answer is how land restitution can more effectively contribute to achieving the objectives of agrarian transformation, such as sustainable agrarian reform [and] de-racialisation of the rural economy for shared and sustainable growth.”

Nkwinti said he believes the recently launched recapitalisation and development programme — introduced as a means of responding to challenges of failing land reform projects — will help to revive the projects.

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