Over 7 000 land claims still to be settled - Commission

2016-09-07 17:11
Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Parliament. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - More than 7000 land claims lodged before 1999 must still be settled before new claims lodged since 2014 can be processed, the Land Claims Commission said on Wednesday.

This followed the Constitutional Court’s ruling in July, that the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act was invalid, Parliament’s portfolio committee on rural development and land reform heard.

The Amendment Act, which opened a new round of claims lodging to the public in 2014, was declared invalid due to a lack of consultation.

Deputy Land Claims commissioner Thami Mdontswa told MPs that the commission had to settle all claims lodged before December 31 1998 before dealing with the 166 000 new claims lodged since 2014.

A total of 7 419 land claims from the pre-1999 period were outstanding as at March 31 2016, Mdontswa said.

Of those, 4 376 (roughly 59%) were at the negotiation phase with claimants.

“The commission will thus shift the resources that were meant for the lodgement of claims to the research and settlement of pre-1994 claims.”

Two years to settle claims

Mdontswa said the commission would have to recall all communication inviting people to lodge claims, but would keep lodging centres around the country open to inform those unaware of the ruling's effect on new claims.

He said the commission could not yet give a figure for the amount the 7 419 claims would cost.

“All the claims need to be negotiated and then gazetted first before Treasury can tell us how much it can allocate,” he said in answering an MP’s question.

The commission had 24 months from the Constitutional Court's ruling on July 28 to settle the outstanding claims.

Land claims, soccer games, fig leaves

Economic Freedom Fighters MP Nthako Matiase accused the African National Congress of using the drive to reopen land claims as a bid to garner votes ahead of the 2014 general elections.

“The court has rudely exposed the political expediency of the ruling party.

“We have been exposed that there can never be a short cut. We are being whipped here. It means we are guilty. Safe to say the EFF was not part of this House before 2014.

“There can never be any fig leaf to cover our nakedness, whenever there is political expediency. Let’s go back to basics.”

Democratic Alliance MP Tsepo Mhlongo said the ruling was a warning for Parliament to not launch a project without following due process.

United Democratic Movement MP Mncedisi Filtane said the National Council of Provinces should get the blame.

‘ANC is still leading’

ANC MP PJ Mnguni said opposition parties were quick to blame the ANC when Parliament failed, but wanted to “bask in the glory” when it succeeded.

“Whenever the other side scores, the game is on,” he hit back.

“The ConCourt was like the referee. The DA thinks it’s the end of the game because they have scored one goal and they have won. The ANC has many goals. The ANC are still leading.”

ANC MP Andrew Madella said the 166 000 new claims indicated that reopening the process had been the right decision.

DA MP Thomas Walters was magnanimous, saying the party welcomed the fact that pre-1999 claims were finally being dealt with.

Read more on:    da  |  anc  |  eff  |  parliament 2016  |  land claims

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