Land reform programme in trouble

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Land reform is in trouble. It seems more and more unlikely that the government will meet its target of redistributing 30 percent of the country's land by 2014.

This emerged in parliament yesterday when the Department of Land Affairs told a joint budget committee that the medium-term budget adjustments announced last week did not give them enough funds to buy land for redistribution.

"The department will not meet its mandate of delivering 30 percent of white-owned agricultural land by 2014," land affairs director-general Thozi Gwanya said.

Gwanya said the department needed R10,713billion more for the next three years than was allocated by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel last week.

He told Parliament the department had asked Manuel for an extra R2,5billion to cover increased costs for the next six months but had received nothing.

ANC MPs were incensed to hear that since 1994 only five percent of white-owned land had been redistributed and that probably only seven percent would be redistributed by 2014.

"I don't want us to entertain the question of allocation of funds when there are serious management problems in the department", committee chairman Lorato Mabe said.

ANC MP Joan Fubbs accused the department of "running through directors-general like diarrhoea".

"We never heard one of them saying he had a problem with the target," she said. "This is the first time that a director-general blames the government. Is he part of the government or is he a consultant?"

Gwanya moved to reassure the committee that he was committed to the target of 30percent.

Treasury official Marissa Moore said she sympathised with the department but that the budget adjustments made last week were only for "unforeseen expenses".