S. Africa To Speed Up Land Expropriation

Ed Stoddard, Reuters, Feb. 7, 2006

JOHANNESBURG—South Africa’s Chief Land Claims Commissioner said on Tuesday he would move from next month to confiscate land in cases where negotiations with the owners had dragged on for three years or more.

Tozi Gwanya said the aim was to settle all outstanding land claims by March 2008 and remove any uncertainties that farmers, banks or investors had about the agricultural sector.

“We have the instructions to speed up and settle all of the claims . . . Our marching orders from the president is that we must settle all of these land claims by March 2008,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.

“We are going to look at all the claims where negotiations have been going on for three years and move forward on them to resolve the claims . . . In March, we will start expropriating land where things have been dragging out for this length of time,” he said.

South Africa can expropriate white-owned farms without a court order under laws aimed at speeding up the return of land to black communities or individuals dispossessed under apartheid. But it has made few moves to date in this direction.

President Thabo Mbeki said on Friday in his state-of-the-nation address that South Africa would regulate the conditions under which foreigners bought land in 2006 and review its willing-buyer, willing-seller policy on land reform.

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