Despite featuring prominently on government’s economic growth agenda, neither agriculture nor land reform and restitution have seen a marked increase in budgetary allocation from Treasury, according to finance minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2014 Budget.
Only R8,7 billion allocated for land restitution claims over the next 3 yrs. #Budget2014
— Farmer’s Weekly SA (@FarmersWeeklySA) February 26, 2014
Over the next three years, after administrative costs have been deducted from the restitution budget, the land reform department will only be spending between R2,6 billion and R2,8 billion on restitution grants per year, according to the Estimates of National Expenditure.
Treasury’s director-general Lungisa Fuzile said more money would only be made available when the department proved it could successfully increase its spending rate.
Just over 600 land claims were settled in 2012/2013 and about 1 300 claims/year should be settled over the next three-year period, according to an annual report.
Referring to the rate at which land claims can be processed and paid for, Fuzile said that the “stated desire” was often higher “than what can practically be done”.
Dr Pieter Mulder, leader of the Freedom Front Plus, criticised government for creating expectations which cannot be fulfilled, saying: “These types of decisions lead to violent protests at a later stage.”
Tobias Doyer, head of Santam Agriculture, said it was obvious that not enough money was allocated for land reform. “But it’s not realistic to expect a budget to be allocated this year already for claims that will only arise once the process has been officially reopened.
“It’s still a long road ahead, but I think we’ll get a surprise when we see what the final bill for land reform will be.”