- Thoko Didiza says her department is working hard to resolve the 9 033 labour tenant land claims.
- She says land restitution remains a concern for her department.
- Didiza committed that the issue of District Six will be resolved.
The Special Master for labour tenants is working with the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to finalise outstanding claims.
Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza said during her budget vote delivered in Parliament on Thursday that her department is working hard to resolve the remaining 9 033 labour tenant claims, of the 20 000 that were lodged.
The Special Master, Professor Richard Levin, had met with labour tenants, civil society and farmers in different provinces to familiarise himself with the extent of the challenges.
"The Special Master, working with the department, has tabled the execution plan in the Land Claims Court on how, in five years, these claims will be resolved," Didiza said.
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She said land restitution remains a concern for her department.
"Land restitution continues to be a matter of concern. We indicated our commitment to accelerating the resolution on old order claims. In the past financial year, we have settled 240 claims, which covered both urban and rural claims.
"The District Six development is continuing as planned, though disturbed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In June 2021, the allocation of 108 housing units will be completed for qualifying beneficiaries, and the elderly will be prioritised."
Didiza's remarks comes after delays marred Phase 3 of the redevelopment of District Six.
News24 reported that the housing handover was meant to take place at the end of April, but the department hoped for the construction of the homes to be completed by June.
Didiza added the management of farmland leases caused concern for farmers, financial institutions and would-be investors.
The minister previously raised concerns about the lease agreement system, where leases were not finalised on time, and neither was it able to assist farmers.
Vuyani Zigana, Ivan Cloete and David Rakgase, who are black farmers, faced threats of eviction from their farms in recent months.
"The Rakgase, Cloete and Zigana cases, though resolved, have amplified the need for a complete overhaul of our system of property management, as a department," Didiza said.
She noted that some farms in Rust de Winter were under land claim.
"Noting the challenge brought by this development, the government will ensure that farmers with valid leases in this area continue with their farming operations. The department will look for alternative land where they will be allocated.
"The Deeds Registry will also ensure that farm leases, earmarked for farmers, are registered in order to create certainty from financial institutions and interested investors."
DA spokesperson Annette Steyn said the implementation of land reform needs a capable state, with clear and implementable policies.
"The chopping and changing of policy direction have caused havoc in the land reform space. No one is even clear what policies are currently used for beneficiary selection.
"We have no proper and updated database of current land reform beneficiaries or even a list of available state land. Land administration is in chaos and it can be seen in the current examples of farmers being evicted from state land."
AgriSA executive director, Christo van der Rheede, appealed to the minister to properly investigate those responsible for hijacking farms for their personal gain.
"The Rakgase, Cloete and Zigana cases are a case in point. While there is a need to overhaul the department's system of property management, everything must be done to root out corruption and incompetent staff.
"The lack of accountability and consequence management must be addressed as a matter of urgency."