January 21, 2003

Land Reform progressing well, says government

In a bid to prevent widespread land invasions South Africa has speeded-up its land reform process, with the Land Claims Commission having validated 95 percent of claims submitted since 2001.

News reports quoted Land Affairs Minister Thoko Didiza as saying that government was "trying to fast-track the land redistribution process" in order to meet President Thabo Mbeki's 2005 deadline for completion of the reform programme. Mbeki's deadline followed what Chief Land Claims Commissioner Wallace Mgoqi had termed "tremendous claimant and public pressure to speed up the process" in November last year.

The land restitution programme which was launched in 1994 by Mandela’s Government of National Unity sought to redress the injustices of the 1913 Land Act. In 2001, there was a total of 48 435 claims allocated for validation, which was later reduced to 37 838, as the claims were screened by commissioners and some claims consolidated into one and the duplicate ones combined. Land Affairs spokeswoman Nana Zenani confirmed reports that 35,294 claims had so far been validated.

In the Mpumalanga 2 831 files were completed with a total of 435 outstanding claims. Limpopo recorded a total of 464 outstanding claims to be completed with an intake of 3 300 files. A 100 percent success rate was recorded in Gauteng, which received 3 248 files and completed them all. The North West recorded the second highest success rate with only 10 claims still needing validation, after having received 1 364. The Western Cape and Free State have 167 and 20 claims outstanding, after receiving 8356 and 811 fines, respectively. The Northern Cape completed 2 606 files out of 2 773, leaving 167 outstanding and KwaZulu Natal, having received the most claims at 12 082, has only 948 still outstanding. The Eastern Cape recorded an intake of 2 164 claims, with 352 still outstanding.

Unlike its northern neighbour, Zimbabwe, South Africa's land reform programme has not been marked by violence and disrespect for the rule of law. However, a number of land invasions have occurred over the past few years outside of the government's programme. (IRIN / BuaNews, Pretoria)

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