Nkwinti: Govt needs help with land reform
Johannesburg - The land reform department cannot deal with land reform problems alone and needs the help of all parties involved, Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Friday.
“Help us understand better the services we are rendering as a department, the weaknesses and quality of these services,” Nkwinti told an inaugural meeting with the national reference group (NRG) on Thursday, according to a statement from his department.
The "go-it-alone" approach failed previous administrations and could not be repeated.
The NRG represents beneficiaries from the department's various programmes, including farm equity schemes and restitution. It would meet with Nkwinti every three months.
NRG provincial representatives at the inaugural meeting said there was a need for change in the willing-seller, willing-buyer approach to land reform. There were concerns about the re-opening of land claims, since Nkwinti had promised to present the proposal to Cabinet.
Other problems included disrupting of farming activities by claimants before their claims had been settled, and overlap between the departments of rural development and land reform, and agriculture.
In May Nkwinti said the government had issued a call for "strategic partners" to help save 852 distressed farms which were at risk of collapse. Tenders for just under half these farms were received.
The department had been forced to introduce its recapitalisation and development programme to help failing land reform projects become viable. To this end, 25% (R225m) of the R900m land acquisition budget in the last financial year had been set aside for recapitalisation.
The department hoped to recapitalise 504 farms.
Nkwinti had acknowledged the state would not achieve its aim of transferring 30% of white-owned land to emerging black farmers by 2014.
The release of his green paper outlining a new approach to land reform had been repeatedly delayed.