18 February 2008
South Africa and Belgium have developed a plan to provide crucial skills and access to resources to the beneficiaries – now numbering over 450 000 households – of South Africa’s land reform programme.
The Department of Agriculture and Land Affairs, in collaboration with the Belgian Embassy in South Africa, will launch the plan, known as the settlement and implementation support (SIS) strategy, in Pretoria on Monday.
With financial and technical support from the Belgian government, the department has developed the support strategy over two years, in a process that involved extensive consultation with land reform experts, researchers and consultants.
The department believes the successful implementation of the strategy will make a huge contribution towards the sustainability of land reform in the country.
Over 90% of claims settled
By August 2007, the Land Claims Commission had settled 93% of land claims lodged by claimants before the 31 December 1998 deadline. This represents a settlement of 74 559 of the 79 696 claims lodged.
The commission is mandated to transfer 30% of commercial farm land to black beneficiaries by 2014, translating to about 25 million hectares of land.
In October 2007, chief land claims commissioner Thozi Gwanya said the land that has been claimed by the government so far has cost the state close to R13-billion.
To date, Gwanya said, 453 840 households have benefited from the restitution process, equating to some two million hectares of land that has been redistributed to claimants.
Other land reform programmes, he said, have resulted in the transfer of a further two million hectares, pushing the final figure to four million hectares so far.
“With regard to restitution, 80% of the claims lodged were urban claims,” Gwanya added. “We have settled urban claims financially to the value of about R5-billion.”
Gwanya said there were 5 136 claims outstanding, of which most were rural claims. Of these, 73 cases were currently before the Land Claims Court.