SA Govt to Grab 5 More Farms

AP, Sept. 28

Pretoria—South African authorities said on Tuesday they were preparing to recommend the seizure of five white farms, because negotiations to buy them for a land restitution programme were taking too long.

A land commission in North West Province said last week it had moved for the first time to seize land from a commercial farmer. On Tuesday, commissioner Blessiing Mphela said final notices were being prepared and would be served on five additional farm owners next week.

He said the notices state the government position that further negotiations would be fruitless. He said if landowners continued contesting the process after receiving the notice, the commission would recommend to the land affairs minister that the land be expropriated.

Willing buyer, willing seller rejected

The commission was set up to restore land that black South Africans lost under apartheid. Previously, South Africa maintained a willing-seller, willing buyer approach to land reform, but the government accuses some farmers of asking too much and dragging out sales.

Deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka indicated in July the government was considering getting tougher.

Mphela said claims for restitution of the land on the five farms came from some 1 200 households. He said they were in most cases previous title deed holders forced to sell to the apartheid government under racial zoning laws.

Officials had been negotiating to buy the five farms for six months to a year, Mphela said.

“In some cases it is simply a lack of co-operation, in others it’s a dispute around the value of the land and the validity of the claim,” he said.

He said the commission would use land expropriation as a last resort.

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