Big land claims poser
Nineteen claims on land in national parks - including Kruger National Park - are hanging in the balance because no progress has been made on any of them.
Eleven of the claims are for land in the Kruger park. Others are for land in Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, in Gauteng; West Coast National Park, in Western Cape; Witsand Nature Reserve, in Vioolsdrift; Nababeep Nature Reserve and Namaqua National Park, in Northern Cape; Qwa Qwa National Park, in the Free State; and Mapungubwe world heritage site, in Limpopo.
This was the state of affairs in October after the DA's Gareth Morgan asked Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Gugile Nkwinti about land claims in parks.
Nkwinti's spokesman, Mthobeli Mxotwa, yesterday failed to respond to questions about the status of the claims.
Morgan, who is also a member of the parliamentary portfolio committee on water and environmental affairs, said: "Though I can't say if anything has changed, my hunch is that nothing will have changed since then."
"The point is that the bodies that adjudicate these particular claims have to apply their minds to what the relevant facts are and whether the claims are legitimate, and then come up with a verdict."
He said he would ask another parliamentary question to gain clarity.
Nkwinti said several communities, families and a royal council had lodged claims for land in the Kruger National Park.
As to when the 19 claims would be resolved, he replied last year: "The finalisation date cannot be determined with certainty at this stage due to ongoing discussions on appropriate settlement models with the Department of Environmental Affairs."
In her response to Morgan's questions, Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa said: "The settlement of land claims in national parks ensures a very delicate balance between the interests of the claimants and government's other objectives in preserving these uniquely valuable sensitive areas in perpetuity".
However, she said the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform was responsible for the administration of the verification of land claims.