AFRA STATEMENT ON THE REOPENING OF THE LAND CLAIMS PROCESS
12 May 2011
The Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA) supports the demands of South Africa’s landless people for the land claims process to be re-opened, and supports the suggestion that this process should include restitution of land lost prior to 1913.
However, AFRA condemns, in the strong possible terms, the manner in which this issue has been handled thus far, creating unnecessary confusion, and raising and then dashing expectations.
The initial position, stated via Government spokesperson, Mtobeli Mxotwa, to the effect that Government will initiate the process of creating a new law or an amendment to the Land Restitution Act, and the subsequent about-turn, reflect the current dysfunctionality of Government in dealing with land reform
AFRA and the Land Rights Legal Unit (LRLU) have firsthand experience of literally thousands of land claims in KZN that have still not been finalised.This is due either to the systematic failure on the part of Government to deal with these claims or because, through ignorance, confusion or misunderstanding, the claims were not lodged in the first place.
The question of restoration of land rights and access to land is a highly emotive one and is a fundamental right entrenched in the Constitution.It is clear that Government’s attempts to deliver in this respect have been an abject failure.Thus, Government needs to urgently reconsider the entire land reform process, instead of attempting to cover up this failure by sowing confusion that results in promises being made, on the one hand, that the entire claims process will be reopened, and on the other the retraction of these promises the very next day.
Cabinet needs to review the entire situation as a matter of urgency – taking into account the desperate plight of countless claimants whose claims have not been settled over all these years.In addition, Cabinet must bear in mind that any move to push the cut off date beyond 1913 will entail an amendment to the Constitution, since this date is entrenched in s 25 (7).
Making promises in this regard without taking this into consideration reflects either ignorance or misunderstanding on the part of the Government.
With the elections looming, this raises the question of who is attempting to fool whom?
Issued by: The Association For Rural Advancement (AFRA) and the Land Rights Legal Unit (LRLU)
Contact: Thabo Manyathi or Mike Cowling on 033 345 7607 for more information.