LAND AND AGRICULTURE MINISTER Lulama Xingwana has departed from her usual script of laying into white farmers for delaying land reform. Speaking at a North West land handover ceremony, she reserved her wrath for squabbling or greedy claimants and underperforming officials.
She said land handed over at nearby Putfontein four years ago had not been
put to good use mainly because of a dispute between the claimants and
“Due to the infighting, the community has not accessed our grants,” she said while handing over the 2 887ha Rysmierbult farm to 746 beneficiaries near Ventersdorp on 23 November. “We won’t allow greed and power-mongering to derail land reform.”
She also lashed out at claimants in Bonjanala district who were ¬demanding compensation way in excess of the value of land they were dispossessed from. “We will not allow any person to frustrate our noble effort of ¬correcting the wrongs of the past,” she said.
This included officials who took time off work at the slightest pretext, and “taaihead” (hard-headed) farmers who refused to sell to government, including 10 landowners of 43 properties under claim at Rysmierbult.
“Five other farmers have come to an agreement with us and are prepared to work with the communities. I am telling the remaining 10 that we no longer have time to negotiate,” she said. A senior official said a recommendation to ¬expropriate had already been sent to the minister.
The Rysmierbult community was removed from the area in 1965. Their claim is worth more than R25 million, which includes an R830 000 planning grant.
The farm has good infrastructure. Over 425ha of the farm is used for maize production, while the remainder is used for livestock. Current owner Casper Botha, credited with resolving a number of community disputes, told Farmer’s Weekly he would mentor the community for five years. His potato production contract with McCain Foods would stay in force. “We will soon meet with the claimants to conclude a partnership joint venture agreement,” he said. – Fidelis Zvomuya and Stephan Hofstätter