Land claims: R233 mln owing

2010-06-12 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Land Claims Commission owes farmers in the province an estimated R233 041 887 in backlogs for land payments.

The Land Claims Commission is part of the national Rural Development and Land Reforms department, and the amount it owes accounts for almost half of the R580 million owed by the national department in outstanding payments on purchased land.

The commission could not ascertain how many farms were affected or the length of period over which the backlog was accumulated.

Nokuthokoza Ndlela, the spokesperson for the commission, said they were already in the process of settling some of the claims and they believe by the end of June, they would have settled the majority of the claims.

“The department is currently in the process of paying those debts, although we cannot be certain that all of the people who are owed will be paid,” said Ndlela.

She said they would prioritise the claims that are due.

An estimated R70 billion is needed to settle that land process, but the government’s budget has not averaged more than R5 billion in the last decade.

The department has further been accused by the Democratic Alliance of reckless behaviour as it continued signing sale agreements to the tune of R1,9 million with far­mers, despite a moratorium that was placed on the process because of lack of funding.

The departments subsequently failed to settle half of that amount resulting in numerous court actions.

Robin Barnsley, president of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union, said their organisation was concerned with the figure and the potential impact it might have on farming.

“We find the situation unacceptable as there are some instances where the farmers have taken the government to court to get their money; but, on behalf of our members, we continue to monitor the situation and liaise with the government.”

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