On May 4, Parliament Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development gave the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights (CRLR) an audience to present its annual performance plan.
The entity has been marked by endless delays in settling restitution cases and gave the Portfolio Committee reassurance that they had a plan aka Project Kuyasa.
“The objective of Project Kuyasa is to reduce backlog of claims, introduce business processes and systems, develop improved financial and settlement models and determination of an appropriate organisational form with autonomy,” said the Commission.
In simplistic terms, the commission gave itself 36 months as a target to become a legalised public entity.
“It’s simply a waste of time and money. What will a new public entity achieve that the commission was unable to do with a staff complement of 1442 people? The process can even take up to more than 5 years if it ever sees the light of day in Parliament,” said Dr Lennox Mtshagi, president of Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA).
Establishing a public entity was a complicated process that required starting from Cabinet approval, seeking an opinion from the State Attorney and drafting a Bill, tabling the Bill in Parliament until promulgation and approval by Parliament.
In 2020, the CRLR said they were 7743 outstanding land claims with Kwa-Zulu Natal having the highest number of outstanding land claims.
For its 5-year strategy, the CRLR expected to finalise 2 407 land claims and settle 8 477 within 89 weeks.
“Where does our government hatch such plans and are they informed by what science precisely? The backlog of land claims is simply an issue of administrative performance and employing the best expertise to carry out this function. Why do we require elongated plans and continue to punish our people?,” said Dr Mtshagi.
CRLR was aware of these limitations but however came out in defence of some settlements not being finalised.
“Settling land claims is not enough without requisite prior land use planning and continuous farmer development support,” the Commission told Parliament.
It earmarked to work with other entities inside and outside the department that provided ‘pre- and post-settlement development support.’