Zuma slams land claim decision

President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address. Photo: ANA

President Jacob Zuma delivers his State of the Nation address. Photo: ANA

Published Feb 10, 2017


Durban – President Jacob Zuma has criticised the decision to give land claimants a choice when settling land claims.

Addressing the country during his State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday night, Zuma said the government was “not very clear” at the beginning of the land claims process when it offered claimants a choice of settling claims by either regaining the land rights or taking financial compensation.

But Glenn Farred of the Association For Rural Advancement (Afra) said Zuma’s call was a non-issue that had been discussed in the past and was tantamount to blaming black people for the failure of land reform.

“About 90% of the land claims are settled through financial compensation, that is not productive and it perpetuates dispositions and does not help the (land reform) process," Zuma said.

He encouraged the land claimants to take the land instead of the money.

“You take the money and you use it and it’s gone, whereas you take the land, and you keep it and it has more value for you.”

Zuma said the land reform process in the country was still lagging too far behind, saying only about 8 million hectares of the country’s 82 million hectares of arable land was in the hands of black people.

He said there had been a decline by only 19% of households engaging in agriculture from 2.9% to around 2.3%.

He also reiterated the government’s desire to use the Land Expropriation Bill to address the land reform process.

However he said that he had sent the bill back to Parliament as he feared it would not pass constitutional muster due to the inadequate public participation process.

Zuma said the government was also forging ahead with the plan to encourage 50-50 partnerships between farm workers and farmers.

He said more than 10 proposals “have already been approved with 921 beneficiaries with a value of about R631 million”.

He said the government would also be working hard to develop small black commercial farmers and had plans to implement the commercialisation project for about 400 black small farmers.

Farred said Zuma had failed to show leadership.

“Land is a very important and emotive issue, but what the president delivered was a not statement and perhaps it is a sign of lack of confidence of Minister Gugile Nkwinti,” he said. He said Zuma should have encouraged Nkwinti to support land reform rather than using court to try to subvert the process.

The Mercury

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