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Wasteful expenditure slows down land reform

Parliament has revealed that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has lost R 205 415 000.00 in irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure between April 2009 and 31 March 2014.

South Africa's food security could be compromised. Photo: Clive Wright

South Africa’s food security could be compromised. Photo: Clive Wright

As the Department central to the implementation of South Africa’s land restitution programme and with a new round of land restitution claims on the horizon, wasteful expenditure at the Department only serves to delay relief to victims of dispossession under apartheid.

We recognise that people who were deprived of the right to lodge a verifiable land claim before the 1998 deadline should not be penalised because of the State’s inefficiency.

an orderly land reform programme that compensates people for verified past dispossession must be supported. We believe that if well managed, land restitution will boost the rural economy and promote justice.

The prevalence of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure within the Department only serves to undermine these goals.

In the 2010/2011 financial year, the Department incurred R 34 252 443,67 worth of irregular expenditure from restitution projects within the Rural Infrastructure Development Branch.

During the same period, the Department succeeded in racking up a total of R73 406 000.00 in fruitless and wasteful expenditure resulting from needlessly incurred land restitution interest payments.

Land restitution projects in KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga each incurred an excessive R17 078 014.02 and R24 481 056.24 in fruitless and wasteful expenditure associated with land restitution interest payments respectively.

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These recent revelations indicate that the department is besieged by financial mismanagement.

It has shown little impetus to introduce the reform needed to correct this mismanagement.

In fact, government’s response reveals that hardly any officials within the Department have been held accountable for the massive losses.

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