The Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti has handed over tittle deeds to eight successful land claimant communities from North West, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces during the 7th People and Parks National Conference in Midrand earlier today.
The land claims which were all situated within protected areas consist of the following projects: the Bapolomiti, Jonathan and Klipvoor in the Northwest Province, Double Drift, Dwesa Cwebe in the Eastern Cape and Moutse and Mahlabane Trust in Mpumalanga.
Addressing the conference, Minister Nkwinti reminded the claimant communities that because they were now the land owners they had a greater responsibility to ensure co-operation among members of the community structures.
“When you receive title deeds you own the land, you will enter into a strategic partnership with government. Let us get use the land – we cannot have a nation that is poor but has the land, we must use the land productively,” the Minister said.
He urged the traditional leaders to assist the community to ensure the land is fully utilised and productive. He stressed the need for cooperation between community, government and all stakeholders.
The Minister also spoke out against the infighting that plagues many communal property associations that are established after the claimed land is handed over to community groups.
He also reiterated that the Communal Property Associations (CPA’s) do not own the land but their role is to manage the land on behalf of the community. The Minister urged the CPA’s to be accountable to the community and to ensure the governance structures do not collapse.
Three of the communities received a total of R3.6 million.
A total of 159 conservation claims were lodged across the nine provinces, these are at various stages of processing. Today community representatives for eight of the settled claims were awarded title deeds for the land and financial rewards as part of the compensation package.
Significant strides have been made in terms of developing policies, strategies and programmes to address land claim related matters within protected areas but challenges remain. An inter-ministerial memorandum of agreement was concluded and signed between the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform and the Department of Environmental Affairs in May 2007. The Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) included a restitution process and an operational protocol to be followed when settling land claims in protected area.
Since 2014 to-date government has spent over two hundred million (R224 381 440.17) in financial compensation for conservation land claims, an amount of R98 532 205.45 (over ninety eight million) was used for infrastructure and other developmental expenditure on restituted conservation land.
The 7th People and Parks Conference under the theme “Unlocking the economic potential of Protected Areas” is hosted by the Department of Environmental Affairs. The conference aims to bring together communities and representative of key constituencies engaged in protected areas management and to reflect on progress.
Source: Government of South Africa