'Take land over money' - MEC Qoboshiyane

AS the land restitution claims process gains momentum, Eastern Cape MEC for rural development and agrarian reform Mlibo Qoboshiyane has advised claimants to choose land rather than financial compensation.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti last week announced the second five-year opening of land claims

for South Africans who have been victims of land removal and dispossession.

The initial land claims period closed in 1998 and the new window, which expects about 397000 new claimants, will close in 2019.

The claims must be lodged with the commission of restitution and land rights (CRLR) for land that was dispossessed from 1913 onwards.

Up to R180-billion will be spent by the department if it is to settle the expected claims plus any outstanding claims.

Although people have the choice of opting for financial compensation after their claims have been validated by the commission, Qoboshiyane said land was more valuable than cash.

“It is important that those who claim land, use it for agricultural projects,” Qoboshiyane said in a statement.

A conditional grant of R143-million has been earmarked for the cropping of 17000 hectares in the province.

More than 15000 black farmers are targeted to benefit from the grant, according to Qoboshiyane.

The Border Rural Committee (BRC) said about 7000 Eastern Cape claimants were gearing up to submit their claims. AbaThembu and AmaRharhabe kingdoms also intend lodging restitution claims, with the latter kingdom urging people to refrain from making individual claims.

Council spokesman Prince Burns-Ncamashe said people should approach the kingdom with their claims as the kingdom would consolidate one land claim to encompass all the traditional councils in its jurisdiction.

Several civil society organisations, including the Land Access Movement of South Africa (Lamosa) and Alliance for Rural Democracy, have criticised the land claims process, saying the government did not have the capacity to settle all.

Unsettled land claims stand at 989 in the province and 8741 nationally, according to the commission. — siviwef@dispatch.co.za

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