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LAND AND ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
13 November 2002
COMMISSION ON RESTITUTION OF LAND RIGHTS: PROGRESS REPORT
Chairperson: Rev P Moatshe (ANC) [North-West]
Documents handed out
Commission's Quarterly Report - July to September 2002
Restitution Claims settled as at 25 October 2002: Urban & Rural Breakdown (see Appendix)
Report on Settled Restitution Claims - April to June 2002
Report on Settled Restitution Claims - July to September 2002
Statistics on Settled Claims as at 30 September 2002
24 045, 68% of total claims, have been settled and that a total of 146 614, 35% of total households, have benefited.
Land Commission's Quarterly Report
Dr W Mgoqi, Chief Land Claims Commissioner: Commission on Restitution of Land Rights, commenced his presentation by giving a comprehensive breakdown of the land validation and restitution exercise in each province. To-date a total of 26 000 claims, equalling 75% of all claims, have been validated, and for this quarter alone a total of 8 592 claims have been validated. The validation process is due for completion in December 2002 and so far 3 522 claims in both rural and urban areas have been settled, from which 6 619 households have benefited. The overall picture is that to-date 24 045, which equates to 68% of the total claims, have been settled and a total of 146 614, or 35%, of the total number of household shave benefited
The major challenge facing the Commission is increasing its human resources, capital and current budgets, so as to enable it to meet the deadline for the completion of the land restitution process in three years, as directed by the President. To this end National Treasury has been approached for additional resources, and there is hope of amounts of R300m, 400m and 600m being additional amounts for the MTEF period 2003 to 2005.
Linked to the personnel shortfall is the difficult task of speeding up the rural claims, which are much more complex than urban claims. The rural claims constitute the backbone of the land restitution program and this is where the largest number of beneficiaries reside, and where the bulk of the land which is to be restored is found. Unfortunately, owing to the tremendous pressure to hasten the land restitution process, the Commission is faced with the danger of hastening things to a point where quality is sacrificed at the altar of speed and quantity.
The sustainability and quality of settlements are critical for sustainable development and there is real danger of this important facet being ignored, the result of which would be to turn this monumental effort into a monumental failure. The most daunting of all the challenges relates to ensuring that, as the land is restored to restitution beneficiaries, they are enabled and empowered to use the land in the most productive and sustainable way.
The Tri-lateral Co-operation Agreement involving the Commission, the Land Bank and the National Development Agency is aimed at these institutions by using their collective resources, experience and expertise, so as to impact positively on the development needs of people who have had their land restored. The Commission is faced with the task of ensuring that the inequalities relating to gender are not replicated in both the holding of the land and its usage. In this regard that the Commission must be seen to honour the constitutional guarantee of respect for the rights of women, the infirm and the aged.
The Commission is concerned about the attitude displayed by some investors who would like to come in and do business on terms most beneficial to themselves, especially with regard to mineral resources. However, this category of investors tend to relegate new owners of land to a position of beggars for employment and others to begging for crumbs that may fall from the Masters' table.
In conclusion, Dr Mgoqi noted that given the social, economic and political pressures in the land reform process both within the country and in some neighboring countries, it would be in the best interest of social justice to finalise the land restitution process within the three years, as per the presidential directive.
Rev M Chabaku (ANC) [Free State] noted that the land restitution process was of immense importance since it projected the country in a more positive light, compared to what is happening in the neighbouring countries. Why are the North-West and Gauteng Provinces classified as low priority areas?
Mr Mphela, Commissioner for Gauteng and the North-West, explained that the because Gauteng is predominantly urban it had fewer problems in validation compared to rural based provinces. The North-West had mostly mineral related disputes which tend to slacken the process in this area.
Mr Nyakane (UDM) [Limpopo] lamented that the Limpopo and Northern Cape provinces had the least cases of settled claims. Why is the restitution progress that slow in these regions?
Mr Mokono, Commissioner for Limpopo Province, replied that the two provinces are 80% rural and for this reason the land reclamation process has been slow in the areas. Rural areas, unlike their urban counterparts, had special features that were complex to resolve before a claim is resettled, and the sheer expansiveness of these regions were most demanding on the already over-stretched personnel resources.
Mr Nyakane suggested that claimants should be actively involved in the demarcation process so as to avoid the misconceptions created around the validation process. There is a tendency of land grabbing where there is a dearth of information on the nature of the process.
Mr N Nqana, Commissioner for Mpumalanga, pointed out that every opportunity is utilised to get the message on land validation across to the people. People nonetheless stake claims of ownership even after they have been clearly educated that the validation exercise is merely for the purposes of further research and investigation. Meetings held by local chief are also used to educate the people on the dynamics of the process.
Mr Nyakane noted that there have been consistent complains that the process is taking too long and that people have actually begun to loose faith and interest in the exercise.
Dr Mgoqi responded that the President has issued a directive that the validation and restitution process should be concluded in three years time, and the Commissioner is working hard and is on schedule to meet this dateline. He admitted that the validation exercise was tedious and at times frustrating, but his team has learned valuable lessons on which they have built strategies to work smarter and more efficiently.
The Chair asked whether there has been any marked improvement in the rate at which claims are settled since the last briefing to the Committee.
Dr Mgoqi responded that there has been a substantial progress that was occasioned by the 1998 amendment to the enabling law, and the figure of the completion rate has witnessed a phenomenon growth. The process has indeed been accelerated to a reasonable level.
The Chair wanted to know whether there have been any court cases in respect of the validation exercise and, if so, what impact this has had on the process.
Mr Ramakarane, Commissioner for the Free State and Northern Cape, answered in the affirmative and explained that once a matter is taken to court such matter is out of the Commission's hands, and this has a delaying effect on the process. Such an eventuality often cause tensions and general disenchantment, which is a threat to the smooth running of the exercise. This is why the exercise is carried out strictly within the confines of the law, so as to avoid a situation in which the courts adjudged the Commission to have failed the due process test.
The Chair wanted to know why claims in the Rustenburg area in the North West have taken long to be cleared.
Mr Mphela replied that the delay can be attributed to a shortage of personnel, and noted that only 47 officials are designated to handle claims in the entire North-West Province. The scarcity of the human resource component was a huge problem that fetters progress in the entire process, and the other problem is that claims staged on mineral rights often end up in court and stall the process.
Mr Nyakane suggested that the Commission meet with the Department to thrash out the perennial complaint regarding the shortage of personnel, and pointed out that people's rights should not be sacrificed at the altar of the lack of human resources.
Dr Mgoqi responded that there has to be a commensurate increase in budgetary allocation where there is an increase in personnel. The Minister is tasked with the appointment of commissioners, and if more minds were brought to bear on the problem the closer one would be to finding a solution. There has been an exodus of personnel from the Commission, which is caused by its limited period existence and that people prefer to seek greener pastures where their job security is assured.
The Chair noted that land issues are very sensitive and need be handled with absolute care to avoid an explosive situation. Yet at present this important process is being approached rather half-heartedly, and called on all role players to take an integrated approach to the process in order to avert a catastrophe in future.
The Chair thanked the Commission for the presentation and adjourned the meeting.
RESTITUTION CLAIMS SETTLED AS AT 25 OCTOBER 2002:
URBAN AND RURAL BREAKDOWN
North West Province
Urban Claims Settled: 657
Beneficiaries involved: 3 942
Rural Claims Settled: 393
Beneficiaries involved: 40 672
Urban Claims Settled: 5 067
Beneficiaries involved: 25 416
Rural Claims Settled: 2 306
Beneficiaries involved: 14 076
Urban Claims Settled: 248
Beneficiaries involved: 1 488
Rural Claims Settled: 71
Beneficiaries involved: 28 500
Urban Claims Settled: 494
Beneficiaries involved: 3 300
Rural Claims Settled: 11
Beneficiaries involved: 48 795
Urban Claims Settled: 440
Beneficiaries involved: 2 400
Rural Claims Settled: 10
Beneficiaries involved: 16 756
Urban Claims Settled: 4 269
Beneficiaries involved: 25 181
Rural Claims Settled: 6 774
Beneficiaries involved: 81 256
Urban Claims Settled: 8 373
Beneficiaries involved: 57 492
Rural Claims Settled: 267
Beneficiaries involved: 26 935
Urban Claims Settled: 865
Beneficiaries involved: 5 190
Rural Claims Settled: 285
Beneficiaries involved: 3 088
Urban Claims Settled: 3 632
Beneficiaries involved: 22 205
Rural Claims Settled: 975
Beneficiaries involved: 17 951
Total Number of Claims Settled: 35 137
Total Number of Beneficiaries Involved: 424 643
Total Number of Claims Settled: 24 045 (68% of total)
Total Number of Beneficiaries Involved: 146 614 (35% of total)
Total Number of Claims Settled: 11 092 (32% of total)
Total Number of Beneficiaries Involved: 278 029 (65% of total)
Note: The statistics for the Western Cape and Free State still have to be verified by the RLCC offices in both regions.
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