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Land claimants want action

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Land claim beneficiaries and land activist organisations on Tuesday joined in a march to the office of the Regional Land Claims Commissioner: Limpopo demanding that government speed up the land claims and restitution process.
The march was led by Nkuzi Development Association and Landless Peoples Movement, an organisation advocating for land rights. Protesters said they had been ignored for more than 15 years.
Land claim activist Matt Mathabatha of Mathabatha Communal Property Association, an organisation affiliated to Nkuzi, reportedly said there had been no progress on claims lodged since 1998.
“We want our land back. We don’t want to hear stories. Our parents died waiting for land, we will also die waiting, we want our land now,” Mathabatha reportedly said.
According to a media release issued by Nkuzi the memorandum submitted to Regional Land Claims Commissioner, Tele Maphoto read: “As land claimants we are aware that the government has failed on numerous occasions to adhere to its promise of settling claims. Year in and year out targets are set but not met.
“The Commission has dismally failed to restore their land rights, failed to give them updates on the status of their land claims despite numerous letters of enquiry, instead leased their land to third parties without prior, free and informed consent.”
Claimants alleged the opening of new claims in the last year was nothing but a plot to entice voters.
Last year, government announced the opening of new claims, allowing those who missed the 1998 deadline to set new claims.
Nicholas Magada, Communication Manager at the Provincial Shared Services Centre Limpopo responded to Polokwane Observer’s inquiries yesterday (Wednesday) as follows: “The department is aware of the protest action by land rights organisations such as Nkuzi Development Association, the Landless People’ Movement and some claimant communities who marched to the offices of the Regional Land Claims Commission in Limpopo on Tuesday. We have a plan within our available resources to expedite all the remaining claims, and not just for those who marched to our offices. The Department has also recently established District Land Committees as proposed by the 2012 National Development Plan (NDP) to handle land acquisition and development for strategic purpose in South Africa. The DLCs are expected to create opportunities for communities to play a meaningful role in the processes of land reform.
“The establishment of such committees decentralises land reform processes and enables substantive and equal participation of all stakeholders in decisions surrounding land acquisition at local level,” Magada said.
He also mentioned that the committees will enable communities to work with government in matters relating to land reform. “Considering the available resources and a number of claims lodged during the first 1998 cut-off date, there is progress in resolving the outstanding claims.
It must be noted that more efforts were put on training of personnel during the initial stages of settling the claims,” Magada replied.