No moratorium on land claims
15 Sep 2009
The Commission on Restitution of Land Rights hereby wishes to place it on record that contrary to recent media reports, there is no moratorium placed on land claims. The commission remains committed to carry out its mandate in line with the Constitution of the country and the Restitution of Land Rights Act, aimed at ensuring that victims of forced removals perpetuated by the apartheid government receive compensation for their loss.
The organisation has noted with regret that statements made by the chief land claims commissioner explaining the current budgetary constraints faced by the commission, have been completely taken out of context in a manner that is not helpful to the advancement of the noble purposes and intents of South Africa’s pertinent land reform process.
The commission views allegations that the current situation puts food security and job creation in jeopardy as misleading and rather reckless. Contrary to such allegations, the Restitution of Land Rights Act does not prevent a land owner from continuing to produce food on his land once a claim on his land has been gazetted. The act talks to situations where a land owner intends to make improvements on the land or change the land use. The requirement is that a land owner must notify the commission of any such intentions.
The message that the chief land claims commissioner has been communicating to stakeholders is that due to the current situation with the commission’s budget, certain things cannot be done. These include the signing of new sale agreements and conducting of valuations on claimed land until such a time that the financial situation has improved, in line with the provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The commission cannot go ahead and commit the state financially when there are no funds available to honour such commitments. Conducting valuations now may not be cost effective for the state because by the time funds become available the valuations might have expired, thus creating a need for new valuations to be conducted.
Payments in respect of sale agreements that have already been concluded have been placed on hold, pending the availability of funds. The commission is interacting with the affected parties regarding the issue of delayed payments.
All the other processes involved in the handling of claims are being carried out in line with Section 42(d) of the Restitution of Land Rights Act. Further implementation on the finalisation of the claims will only take place once funds are available. In the meantime while the commission is awaiting the outcome of the budget adjustment process in October 2009, increased focus has now been placed on speeding up the research and gazetting process on all the outstanding claims.
The commission is aware of the fact that farmers and claimants may be frustrated by the current situation, especially given the fact that the organisation is not in a position to foretell when the additional funding will be available. The commission is appealing for patience while the situation is being reviewed.
Tel: 012 312 8452
Cell: 071 855 8369
Issued by: South African Land Commission
15 September 2009
Issued by: Commission on Restitution of Land Rights
15 Sep 2009
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