30 October, 2013
cuts to slow land redistribution to a crawl
by Carol Paton, Business
Day, 28 October 2013, 06:14
redistribution and restitution, already painfully slow, are set to slow further
after receiving funding cuts in last week's medium-term budget policy
slow pace of land reform has been a major concern for the African National
Congress as reversing apartheid land dispossession is a central plank of its
policy platform. Initial targets were for the redistribution of 30% of land by
next year, but a lack of funding and a high failure rate of projects have
resulted in the redistribution of a little over 5% of farmland so far.
revisions released by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan include a R500m cut to
the land reform budget as well internal shifting of funds between programmes.
result is a R600m loss to the budget for buying land for black farmers and a
R470m drop in the funds available for restitution.
University of the Western Cape's Institute of Poverty, Land and Agrarian
Studies' Ruth Hall said the cuts meant the budget for land reform and rural
development was, in real terms, at its lowest in three years.
the budget has dropped back to about the level of last year's budget, reversing
the increased allocation at the start of this year. The budget is lower than it
has been in three years and, in real terms, lower than at any time under the
Zuma administration," Prof Hall said.
of Rural Development and Land Reform spokesman Mthobeli Mxotwa said the cuts
would further slow land reform programmes. "Land reform will slow down and
restitution will slow down.
are going to reduce the tempo with the exception of programmes aimed at the
revival of depressed land reform farms. There we will do more to recapitalise
and develop them," he said.
department's Recapitalisation and Development Programme, which requires black
farmers to acquire established commercial partners to access state support,
will benefit from a reprioritisation of funds from other programmes.
cut of almost half-a-billion rand to the restitution budget - which funds
compensation for land claims - comes less than a year after President Jacob
Zuma announced the reopening of land claims for those who had missed the
deadline to apply.
was also implied by Mr Zuma at the time that claims would be opened to those
dispossessed prior to 1913, in particular the Khoi and the San. However, this
has proven "constitutionally not possible".
fewer resources now available for restitution, Prof Hall said "reality and
political rhetoric were moving in different directions".
Mr Gordhan made much of the fact that spending as a whole would continue to
grow at 2.2% in real terms in last week's policy statement, of the R21.6bn that
was added to spending baselines, R17.4bn - 80% - was allocated to improve pay
for public servants, an indication that wage costs are crowding out other
and rights lobby groups have also begun to raise concerns about aspects of the
re-opening of land claims. It is feared that the re-opening of claims could
lead to the dispossession of communities who have made successful claims but
are not yet in possession of their title deeds.