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#Budget2017: Land reform money 'a drop in the ocean'

Politics
Johannesburg - Proponents of land expropriation without compensation feel done down by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s Budget allocation of R32.1 billion aimed at accelerating the long-drawn-out land reform programme.

And R10.3 billion - which is 32 percent of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s budget over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) - will go towards settling land claims.

The department's budget would also fund economic activities such as creating job opportunities for rural youth, developing redistributed farms, transforming land tenure and setting land claims.

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Picture: David Ritchie

The land reform programme has been allocated R8.3bn over the MTEF “for the acquisition of land and the creation of productive and profitable farms”, according to Budget documents.

The slow land reform pace has been criticised by various stakeholders, including emerging farmers and land claimants.

President Jacob Zuma spoke of the need to return land to black people during the ANC January 8 statement, which was peppered with the phrase "radical economic transformation".

The department, through its recapitalisation and development programme, wanted to ensure redistributed land “becomes productive and profitable by providing mechanised irrigation, farmer mentorship and farm inputs”. “Since the programme began in 2008/09, 1496 farms have been created from more than 4.7million hectares of land acquired,” the documents stated.

The department aimed to acquire about 281165 hectares of “strategically located land” over the medium term and R187.7million has been set aside for that.

“The One Household, One Hectare initiative is the key mechanism used to provide the landless access to land and promote agrarian transformation.

"The objective of the initiative is to create smallholder producers for the agri-parks initiative, focusing on 44 of the poorest districts in the country and other sites in densely populated areas.

"The department projects that 16500 households will participate in the One Household, One Hectare initiative over the MTEF period, at an estimated cost of R4.3 billion, budgeted for in the Agricultural Land Holding Account sub-programme.”

Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama said the R8.3bn budget for land reform was a drop in the ocean.

“We shouldn't be buying land that was stolen from us in the first place. The Budget allocation doesn't suggest that Gordhan understands President Zuma’s concerns for radical economic transformation. The land in South Africa is stolen property,” he said.

Mngxitama said most of the Budget should be going towards “supporting our people once they've access to a piece of land”.

PAC national spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe said: “The land cannot be bought. It’s the rightful property of African people which was stolen (through) the barrel of a gun.”

However, the ANC has said it would use constitutional measures to return land to the people.

THE STAR

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