The Regional Land Claims Commission: Western Cape has settled 14 830 land claims in the province thus far and it has 949 urban and 661 rural claims left to settle before the March 2008 deadline as set by President Thabo Mbeki. More than six million South Africans were victims of racial land dispossession, leading to a skewed land ownership pattern, with 87% of agricultural land in the hands of white farmers and only 13% occupied by black people. In 1994 the government introduced the new land policy and related land legislation that saw the advent of the three-pronged land reform programme focused on restitution, redistribution and tenure reform, with implementation guided by the rule of law.
The Department of Land Affairs provides access to land and extends rights in land, with a special focus on previously disadvantaged communities, within a planned environment. The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) and the specialised Land Claims Court were established in terms of the Restitution of Land Rights Act, No. 22 of 1994 as amended, in order to finalise land claims.
Land restitution seeks to redress the injustices of apartheid, foster national reconciliation and stability, underpin economic growth, improve household welfare and alleviate poverty. Victims of forced removals were given a window of almost four years to lodge land claims by 31 December 1998.
About 41 land claims were settled by 31 March 1999. In 1999 the Restitution Act was amended to give powers to the Minister of Land Affairs to make restitution awards based on negotiated settlements. This improvement led to the exponential increase in the number of claims settled – 71 645 by March 2006 – restoring dignity to 1 003 551 beneficiaries and returning 1 067 152 hectares of land. The land surface of South Africa is 122- million hectares, of which about 84-million hectares is agricultural land. Inclusive of the restitution programme, 3.5-million hectares of land has been transferred to blacks over the last 11 years.
This is small compared to the target of transferring 30% (24-million hectares) of agricultural land to blacks by 2014. Municipalities play a signficant role Land Reform, namely: assist in identifying land needs in each Municipality; make land available for housing commanages, business development and rural communities (agricultural and human settlements); provide support to Restitution and other Land Reform Beneficiaries; assist the Department of Land Affairs in the implementation of the proactive Land Acquisition Strategy to meet the 30% target of redistribution of agricultural land by 2014; be an implementing agent for Land Reform Projects and thereby a conduit for administering development grants; establish a strong Land Reform desk within Municipalities to work closely with the Department of Land Affairs and the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights; the Intergovernmental Relations Act enjoins Land Reform and Local Government to collaborate with regard to planning and implementation of IDPs. The private sector, however, can also play a role as the vehicle for land reform, provided the vision of transformation is shared.
Œ Ms Beverley Jansen Regional Land Claims Commission, Western Cape
Private Bag X9163, Cape Town 8000
Tel: (+27 21) 426 2930
Fax: (+27 21) 424 5146
(C) 2005 Western Cape Business | TradeInvestSA