Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Land claims to be settled this year
In what is commendable news, if with a small caveat, SA's chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya announced that all outstanding land claims would be completed in 2005.

Gwanya stated "We are confident we will settle the urban claims by March 2005." The urban land claims represent 13 247 of the total 22 447 outstanding land claims, with government committing to complete the 9 200 outstanding rural claims by year end. Even as it stands, the government has only managed to resolve 57 000 land claims since 1994, inferring that it will take a mammoth effort to resolve the 22 000 in the next twelve months.

However, it is testament to the efficiency of the process that 57 000 have been completed without much fanfare, or more importantly, without much violence. I am not including the almost communist tendencies of the Landless People's Movement under this point, as many of their policies (and their fanfare) are based not in historical fact but rather in a desire for political presence. Land restitution is an area that could easily derail political endeavour on both sides of the racial spectrum, and one must commend the ANC on their necessarily meticulous, if a bit slow, process of evaluating and dealing with claims. As with so many other political truths that we take for granted in this new South Africa, it could have turned out very differently.