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By Lindi van Rooyen

The bill allowing for the reopening of the land claims process has been passed by the National Assembly.

The amendments to the Restitution of Land Rights Act of 1994 will permit the lodgement of land claims for restitution for another period of five years. This is to give those who missed the first cutoff date a chance to apply.

The act will also give those who were dispossessed of land before 1913, such as the Khoi San communities, an opportunity to claim land.

The bill has been opposed by many political parties and by organised agriculture. 

Dr Pieter Mulder, deputy agriculture minister, said that the previous land claims process brought agricultural investments to a halt and any lengthening of the process could cause further harm to the sector.

Read: Dealing with land claims

“The ANC is creating new expectations in a lot of people. Some 379 000 new land claims are likely to be submitted. This could cost the state about R179 billion to settle. The restitution budget is roughly only R3 billion a year. How then is the state to find the money to settle all these claims?” he asked.

“If all these new expectations cannot be fulfilled, it is a recipe for revolution. I want to predict that the ANC’s re-opening of land claims will in future turn against them.”

Mulder said the money for land reform would be better spent to create a strong class of black commercial farmers who farm for commercial rather than sentimental reasons.

The bill will have to be accepted by the National Council of Provinces before it can be promulgated by the president.

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