Cash in­stead of land makes mock­ery

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - John Whit­lock

SOME time ago Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma pleaded with land claimants to take land and not the money. This plea puts paid to the fal­lacy that most blacks want “their land” (sic) back.

The rea­sons for tak­ing fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion are: Mov­ing from one lo­ca­tion to an­other is dis­rup­tive, so they take the money for their chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion or for ex­tend­ing their homes.

Not ev­ery black per­son wants to be a farmer.

The dif­fi­cult leg­isla­tive resti­tu­tion process, lim­ited set­tle­ment grants, and the lack of post-set­tle­ment sup­port and com­mit­ment by the gov­ern­ment make farm­ing daunt­ing.

It’s a com­pli­cated busi­ness, whereas cash com­pen­sa­tion is guar­an­teed, quick and less com­pli­cated.

Most claimants are poor, so money is ap­peal­ing and farm­ing is hard work.

Older claimants feel they are too old to go back and make mean­ing­ful use of the land. Com­mis­sion of­fi­cials also co­erce them to choose fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion.

Many claimants have be­come ur­banised, fam­i­lies have grown, so re­turn­ing to un­de­vel­oped land, barely known to them, is also not al­ways ap­peal­ing.

Tak­ing fi­nan­cial com­pen­sa­tion makes a mock­ery of the idea that land re­stores dig­nity to those who were dis­pos­sessed. The land pol­icy needs to be re­vamped as mil­lions of rand are be­ing wasted on failed projects, pro­duc­tive farms are be­com­ing waste­lands and food pro­duc­tion is suf­fer­ing.

Us­ing the race card is not the an­swer, nor is a ref­er­en­dum. Cool heads, in­tel­li­gent ideas and con­struc­tive de­bate will pave the way for­ward. Ger­mis­ton

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