New land bill offers little comfort - ARD

Johannesburg - The government has not budgeted enough money to deal with the expected number of new land claims, the Alliance for Rural Democracy (ARD) says.

The organisation was concerned that if land claims continued to be settled at the current rate, it would take 121 years to settle them.

"The budget for land restitution over the next year... R2.6bn, is lower now than it has been since 2009/10 in nominal terms and since 2004/5 (adjusted for inflation)," it said in a statement.

Five years

According to the ARD, government had a backlog of at least 30 000 claims from the 1994-1998 period.

"This is in the context of government estimating that 379 000 new claims will be lodged over the next five years.

"There are still no assurances that enough money has been budgeted for this mushrooming of claims expected to occur from July [2014]."

The ARD called on the government to prioritise unresolved claims before taking on new ones.

President Jacob Zuma signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill into law on Monday.

Forced removals

The legislation re-opened the restitution claims process that closed at the end of 1998 and gave claimants five years, to June 30, 2019, to lodge land claims.

Only about 80 000 land restitution claims were lodged by the 1998 deadline. It was estimated there were up to five times as many valid cases that could have been brought by victims of apartheid-era forced removals.

The legislation also regulates the appointment and service conditions of Land Claims Court judges.

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