New land claims process not the answer – Agri SA

Re-opening the land restitution process is not the answer to deal with issues such as addressing the legacy of the dispossession of land from the Khoi and the San people, according to Dr Theo de Jager, Agri SA deputy president.

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De Jager said while it was important to address the issue, a general re-opening of the land claims process was not the answer. “We should rather look at a new, targeted process for the Khoi and San descendants", De Jager said. This followed after the National Reference Group (NAREG) meeting called by the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Gugile Nkwinti on 15 and 16 February, the last consultative meeting on the Green Paper on Land Reform.

Government has recently proposed re-opening the land claiming period for another three years. The original cut-off date for claims was 31 December 1998. De Jager said this held constitutional challenges and would cause huge uncertainty in the sector, which may lead to disinvestment. He said that it may lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, including conflict between existing beneficiaries of land reform and new claimants. "Agri SA also supported the call from black farmers for title to the state land that they are leasing," said De Jager.

Other issues Agri SA expressed its concerns over were on the use of land ownership ceilings and converting title deeds of foreign land owners into long term leases. Agri SA said it believed land ownership ceilings were contrary to free market-principles and were likely to have a negative impact on food security and investment in the sector, while conversion of foreign title deeds held constitutional and investment implications. 

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