Prom­ise to re­solve land is­sues could grind to halt

Con­court puts on the brakes but an­a­lyst says there’s hope

The Star Early Edition - - POLITICS - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

PRES­I­DENT Ja­cob Zuma’s bid to speed up the land re­form pro­gramme, through the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill, could be in trou­ble as the Con­sti­tu­tional Court puts brakes on the land re­form process for 18 months.

The court said Par­lia­ment had to fix the Land Resti­tu­tion Bill first be­fore it could start al­low­ing new land claims.

But Zuma told thou­sands of ANC sup­port­ers at Or­lando Sta­dium at the week­end that this year they would speed up the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill.

The bill was passed by Par­lia­ment last year, af­ter many years in limbo in the na­tional leg­is­la­ture.

How­ever, yes­ter­day an­a­lyst Pro­fes­sor Sipho Seepe said the court de­ci­sion did not stop Zuma from im­ple­ment­ing the Ex­pro­pri­a­tion Bill.

He said there were three pil­lars of land re­form in the coun­try, and they were land resti­tu­tion, re­dis­tri­bu­tion and land ten­ure.

If one pil­lar of land re­form was af­fected by the court de­ci­sion, it did not mean the whole land re­form pro­gramme would have to stop.

“In terms of pol­icy there are three pro­cesses of land re­form: it is land resti­tu­tion, re­dis­tri­bu­tion and land ten­ure,” he said.

“If there is a court case on land resti­tu­tion it speaks to one pil­lar of land re­form.”

Seepe said Zuma was right to drive the land re­form pro­gramme.

He said resti­tu­tion was one part of land re­form, and it should not im­pact on other land re­form pro­cesses, in­clud­ing re­dis­tri­bu­tion and land ten­ure.

Par­lia­ment had in­di­cated last year that it would be­gin with the fix­ing of the Land Resti­tu­tion Bill this year fol­low­ing the Con­sti­tu­tional Court judg­ment.

Par­lia­ment was taken to court by land rights groups on the pro­cesses fol­lowed in the ap­proval of the bill.

The govern­ment had in­di­cated it would re­quire be­tween R129 bil­lion and R179bn in the new land claims.

It was ex­pected that close to 400 000 new claims would be lodged by the end of the new win­dow pe­riod in 2019.

At the time that the Con­sti­tu­tional Court halted the new land claims process, more than 100 000 new claims had al­ready been re­ceived by the govern­ment.

Seepe em­pha­sised that land re­form was key to un­lock­ing the trans­for­ma­tion agenda of the state.

He said the fact that there was a judg­ment on resti­tu­tion did not mean the whole land re­form pro­gramme would have to stop.

Seepe said it was im­por­tant for Zuma to drive the agenda for land re­form in the coun­try.

Zuma signed the Land Resti­tu­tion Bill into law in July 2014 and this al­lowed for peo­ple who missed the ear­lier dead­line of 1998 to lodge land claims.

How­ever, the de­ci­sion of the Con­sti­tu­tional Court last year halted this process un­til Par­lia­ment had ad­dressed the de­fects in the law.

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