Farmers blame govt for slow land reform

2010-06-24 00:00

THE lethargic pace at which the government is driving South Africa’s land restitution process has raised concern among farming organisations, which claim the government is responsible for the slow progress.

The landowners’ organisations are represented by AgriSA, the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union and their affiliates, who are irked by the slow land reform process, the lack of policy development in land reform and the government’s accusation that they are hampering land reform.

“The landowners in the country have been very co-operative with the government. It is the incompetence in numerous government departments that has been holding back the process,” KwaNalu president Robin Barnsley told The Witness yesterday.

He said that had the government been actively pursuing the land reform process, it would be near finalisation by now.

“Since 1994, farmers have been offering their land to the state. Theoretically, the statistics show that, annually, seven percent of commercial land is made available for purchase. In such a scenario, about 70% of SA’s commercial farming land would have been transferred already.”

Barnsley outlined numerous shortcomings in the Land Reform Department, adding that it is partly to blame for the failures of the process.

He said there are serious deficiencies in the government’s administrative capacity and in the process of managing land reform, which the organisations have raised with the relevant departments.

These include a lack of transparency with the listing and delisting of land for restitution purposes; red tape hampering the finalisation of claims; a lack of investigation into allegations regarding gross negligence and corruption; confusing conduct relating to the prioritisation of transfers; and unacceptable delays on the part of the state in paying for land already acquired and transferred.

“The landowners are not opposed to the land reform process. They are eagerly participating, and it’s only the government shortcomings that are stifling the process.”

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