New land claims plan under fire

2013-02-06 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu) has questioned the wisdom of the mooted plans to re-open the land claims process, saying most of KwaZulu-Natal was already under claim.

CEO of Kwanalu Sandy La Marque said KwaZulu-Natal was already covered with wall to wall claims with hundreds of claims yet to be settled. Already, many industries in this province are sitting on claimed land.

The organisation raised its concerns as the government is allegedly planning to re-open the process. The deadline to lodge land claims closed in December 1998.

La Marque said, “Although the statistics may not be completely accurate, we estimate that there are at least 1 000 other claims that have to be processed as the department has not even done research on the validity of those claims.

“We are very concerned about the proposal if it goes ahead … We are already facing a situation of claims on claims,” she said.

National African Farmers Union (Nafu) expressed a different view, saying the re-opening of the process would allow those who missed out to apply.

“There are people who, when this process started, did not believe that it would actually happen and therefore they missed out. This would be their chance,” said the president of Nafu, in KZN Dr Mandla Buthelezi.

He was not fazed at the failure rate of many farms given to claimants under the land restitution process.

“The reason many fail is because the land claimants are not given anything to farm with. The [previous] land owners, when they sell the farms, take everything including the tools.

“The government also needs to invest heavily in agricultural colleges for black farmers to avoid more farms collapsing; they need to be serious about agricultural training. They should turn one of the FETs into an agricultural college,” said Buthelezi.

Sipho Dlamini, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal department of Land Affairs, said they could not comment on the matter as they were waiting for the president to give direction and did not wish to pre-empt his state of the nation address.

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