File photo: Reuters


Cape Town - Government will need as much as R179 billion to settle outstanding land claims, but only a small fraction of this amount is available, the DA said on Friday.

“We sincerely hope that the re-opening of land claims will not create false hopes and unrealistic expectations among land claimants,” Democratic Alliance MP Kevin Mileham said in a statement.

While the DA supported the re-opening of land claims - as enabled through the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill - it hoped this was a genuine commitment by government to return land, rather than “an election ploy” to garner the support of land claimants.

Mileham said that since the initial land claims window period closed in 1998, government had only finalised and settled about 59 000 of 77 000 valid claims, at a cost of R25.2bn.

“In the medium-term budget policy statement at the end of last year, the restitution programme was cut to R2.9bn, while an estimated 397 000 new land claims need to be processed.

“R2.9bn is simply not sufficient to settle all current outstanding land claims. Government needs as much as R179bn to settle the outstanding claims. This figure does not take into account the new claims that would be lodged when the act comes into effect.”

The rural development and land reform department had in the past been clear that it did not have sufficient funds to deal with the current outstanding land claims, let alone new ones.

Mileham called on the African National Congress to “not make promises it cannot deliver on”. - Sapa