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Dispossession is not land reform

Author: Aninka Claassens

The reopened land restitution process had netted 55 973 new claims by the time the minister of rural development and land reform, Gugile Nkwinti, delivered his budget address last week. That is not far from the 80 000 claims lodged before 1998 – and the new window is open until June 2019. 

Last year’s Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Act has been promoted with buses kitted out as mobile claim offices on rural roadshows that raise new hope and make for good publicity ahead of next year’s local government elections. 

The problem is that, while Nkwinti’s department estimates that new claims could cost R180 billion, his budget is only R2.7 billion a year. There is not nearly enough money in his budget to pay for the 28 000 unresolved old claims – let alone new ones. 

What is going on here? Raising expectations that can never be fulfilled is a politically dangerous game.

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