Treasury cuts land reform budget

According to the 2019 budget, money to be spent on restitution and land reform programmes will decline from R6,5 billion in 2019/2020 to R5,9 billion in 2020/2021
Photo: FW Archive

The allocation from National Treasury to the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) will decrease from just under R11 billion in 2019/2020 to R10,67 billion in the 2020/21 fiscal year, before increasing again to R11,35 million in 2021/2022, according to the Estimates of National Expenditure that was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday along with the 2019 budget by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

The allocation for the restitution and land reform programmes was set to decrease from R6,5 billion in 2019/2020 to R5,9 billion in 2020/2021, and increase to R6,2 billion in 2021/2022.

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The minister’s speech contained precious little reference to land reform. Mboweni briefly acknowledged that “a robust debate on land is taking place in South Africa” and said government has set aside money “to help our people buy their own houses, support land reform, and transfer title deeds”.

The Budget Review stated, however, that despite the baseline reduction in 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 in money allocated for spending on restitution and land reform, R18,4 billion was allocated to “accelerate land reform over the medium term”.

This money, the document said, would be spent to finalise more than 1 700 restitution claims and acquire more than 325 000ha of land for landless South Africans.

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“Government has allocated R138 million to help resettled farmers to purchase equipment and develop farms over the medium term. As part of the president’s economic stimulus and recovery plan, government and organisations representing farmers of different commodities will implement 262 priority land-reform projects at a cost of R1,8 billion,” the Budget Review stated.

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According to the Estimates of National Expenditure, the DRDLR was set to spend an estimated R343,2 million over the medium term on consultants to conduct research to confirm the validity of claims and verify claimants.

The department will also roll out a comprehensive communication strategy at a projected cost of R37,9 million over the medium term.

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