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Tue Sep 23 12:23:15 SAST 2014

Land reform limps on

SCHALK MOUTON | 05 February, 2013 00:09
TTP8FARM03-02-12-2012-14-12-04-200-.jpg
Farm workers

In the 19 years of democracy, only 313 properties have been acquired by the department of rural development and land reform in Gauteng.

An estimated 45 of these farms are productive, while 45 are completely unproductive. The rest are used for either "subsistence farming" or medium-scale farming, delivering only small crops.

The 313 properties cost Gauteng more than R4.5-billion.

This is according to Rachel Masango, chief director of the Gauteng Shared Services Centre, which is responsible for the implementation of the department's programmes.

Masango gave a breakdown yesterday of the progress in reversing the 1913 Natives Land Act.

In 2009, the government made a commitment to transfer 30% of the 82million hectares of agricultural land that was white-owned in 1994 to black people by 2014.

This translates to 24.5million hectares.

Between 1994 and December 2011, only 3.9million hectares were redistributed nationally through the land acquisition and redistribution programme.

Of the 313 properties acquired in Gauteng, Masango said "about 15% are not productive at all", even though they received both financial and professional assistance from the department.

Masango said there were several cases in which the department was defrauded by the beneficiaries of land and grants, and two cases had been referred to the Special Investigating Unit.

"[The unit] is looking into assisting us in terms of how deep the fraud went and how much money went to individuals. It would then give us recommendations as to the actions required on those cases," she said.

The department had stopped transferring land completely into the beneficiaries' names because some had sold the land acquired in this way. The department was now keeping ownership of the land and leasing it to the farmers.

One of the major problems the department faces is a lack of accountability by new farmers.

"We do not just stop the funds and leave that land to go back to being unproductive," Masango said. "What we try and do is put systems in place for them to be able to go through [good business practices]."

The department was also hampered by inflated land prices, family disputes, community dynamics and the lack of skills in the departments in the land acquisition process, she said.

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Tue Sep 23 12:23:15 SAST 2014 ::