December 17, 2010

Minister concedes land reform deficiencies

The land reform programme has not always produced the intended results, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has said. "We are all aware that land reform has not always produced the intended results. It is imperative that we find a pragmatic solution for land reform," said Nkwinti speaking at a meeting at the Nkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban. He meet with traditional authorities, municipal heads and labour tenants to discuss challenges faced once land was handed over. The purpose of the meeting was also to discuss sustainability of projects handed over through the land reform programme. "There needs to be a change in the way we do things. We must also be careful not to dwell on problems," said Nkwinti. He also identified problem areas that needed the government's immediate attention. "Challenges relating to legal entities such as communal property institutions and trusts, which have been entrusted as custodians of land on behalf of the communities, are a contributory factor in the poor management of projects."

Disputes regarding boundaries on claimed land and tensions between traditional leaders and legal entities have stalled the progress on a number of projects. He said poor support to communities that received land was another issue that needed immediate attention. "Tension often exists between new land owners who have acquired land through the restitution programme and the labour tenants." Nkwinti said he was aware that as government they have also made mistakes in the land reform projects and apologised to communities concerned.

The meeting was attended by KwaZulu-Natal premier Zweli Mkhize and provincial MEC for Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural Development Lydia Johnson. He told delegates that as a means of responding to challenges of land reform projects, his department has introduced a new recapitalisation and development programme. "The objectives of the programme are to increase production, to guarantee food security, to graduate small scale farmers into commercial farmers and to create employment." The recapitalisation and development programme was designed for farmers and communities that have received land from the state and have not received the necessary support to sustain production. (SAPA)


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