According to Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2014/15 National Budget Speech, government is only prepared to spend R 8.7 billion on the settlement of land restitution claims over the next three years – approximately R 300 million less than the past three years.
This means that at the very same time that the ANC is pushing through the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill, which will require significantly more funding, national government is budgeting less money for land restitution.
This is confirmation that the re-opening of land claims, as enabled by this Bill, is an election ploy designed to divide South Africans, rather than a genuine commitment to redress.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform has always maintained that it does not have sufficient funding to deal with the current outstanding land claims, let alone new ones.
Since the initial land claims window period closed in 1998, government has only finalised and settled some 77 149 of the 79 696 initial restitution claims at a cost of R 16 billion.
Government might need as much as R 179 billion to settle the outstanding claims and the new claims that would be lodged if the Bill is enacted.
“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.
However, only when the conditions for successful restitution are firmly in place, will we support the one last re-opening of the window for a limited period, while requiring a fixed time period for the finalisation of all claims,” said Kevin Mileham of the Democratic Alliance.
“The ANC, on Tuesday, rejected important and necessary DA amendments to the bill that would achieve this. We were therefore unable to support a bill that would create false expectations without any real development.
In its manifesto, the DA sets out a clear and workable alternatives that will benefit the people who actually need it. Indeed, we believe that if it is well managed; land restitution will boost the rural economy, promote justice, and maintain food production and security,” added Mileham.