Home South African More than R6bn spent in 5 years to buy farms for restitution,...

More than R6bn spent in 5 years to buy farms for restitution, redistribution – minister

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The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has spent more than R6 billion on purchasing farms for land restitution and redistribution over the last five years.

The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza. File picture

THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has spent more than R6 billion on purchasing farms for land restitution and redistribution over the last five years.

This was revealed by Minister Thoko Didiza in response to parliamentary questions from DA MP Noko Masipa.

Masipa wrote to Didiza enquiring about progress made towards achieving land reform targets, including the number of farms bought, post-settlement support and annual input cost support, among other things.

“The Land Redistribution and Tenure Reform programme acquired 239 farms while the Land Restitution programme acquired 970 farms from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2023, at the cost of R2.138bn and R4.304bn, respectively,” Didiza said.

She said her department, through its Land Development Support programme, has supported a total of 244 land reform farms across the country.

“Production inputs budget allocated to the farms amounts to R543,081 million.”

Didiza said that since the farms were funded in different financial years, they were currently under implementation at different stages of production based on the type of commodity’s production cycle.

“In line with the standard of the programme, each approved farm had an estimated net profit of at least R350,000 per production cycle as per approved business plan(s).

“The applicable production standards are used to ensure that enterprises are funded at their commercial entry level considering the available natural resources and support required to ensure sustainability and growth,” she added.

This comes on the heels of a report that the Land Claims Commission has revised its annual targets aimed at settling land claims targeted for this financial year due to the decrease in the department’s budget.

The “Cape Times” last week quoted Didiza as saying her department had put strategies and plans in place to address the R34.41m reductions in the department’s budget for food security, land reform and restitution programme.

It was also previously reported that land claims commissioner Nomfundo Ntloko said the lack of sufficient budget continued to have an impact on the goal to accelerate settling of outstanding old land claims.

“An estimated R68bn is needed for the next period of five years … The commission will need approximately 30 years to settle claims at a cost of R172bn,” Ntloko said last year.

In a separate response to EFF MP Mzwanele Manyi, Didiza said her department was to spend R14.9bn on restitution in the next three financial years.

“The department’s land acquisition projections for the seventh administration to spend was reflected in the Mid-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation for the next three years as R1,605 billion for redistribution and R13.354bn for the next five years for restitution.”

According to Didiza, a total of 792,791 hectares of land was transferred as part of redistribution and restitution since February 2018.

The figure is made up of 330,046 hectares acquired for redistribution and 462,745 for restitution.

Two million individuals benefited from financial compensation and land restoration.

Asked by EFF MP Sam Matiase what her department found to be the factors that contributed to land restitution breaking the cycle of poverty, Didiza said the recipients of the land restitution programme received land as an asset or financial compensation, which enabled the claimants to participate in the economy of the country, thus breaking the cycles of poverty.

“More than 998,479 individuals benefited from financial compensation and more than 1,134,039 individuals benefited from land restoration,” she said.

Didiza said the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights did not keep a record of strategic partnerships entered into by settled restitution claimants.

“Once property is transferred, the transferee may enter into partnerships in their own legal capacity,” she said.

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