Daily Archives: May 31, 2013

Natives Land Act: negotiating a new landscape 100 years later

Cape Town: As South Africa gets ready to mark the centenary of the 1913 Natives Land Act, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti says South Africans must collectively work to undo the wrongs of the past, which have led to inequity in issues of land distribution.

This year marks a centenary since the Natives Land Act was passed on 19 June 1913.

Next month, on the exact date when the act was passed, government plans to call on the country to make a “determined national effort to put that act and its implications behind the nation”, Nkwinti said when briefing the media, after delivering his Budget Vote in Parliament on Friday.

He said South Africans would be asked “to spread out our hands in a common bond by which we promise to move forward in harmony and unity, and pledge that never again will this country’s good name be soiled by such ruinous legislation”.

Government has also begun a process that will rekindle the class of black commercial farmers that was destroyed by the Natives Land Act.

Nkwinti said a big part of the redress process was engaging in discussions with the descendants of the Khoi and San people, who feel that they had been left out of the negotiated settlement that had brought an end to the previous political dispensation.

Nkwinti recently met representatives of these first people in Kimberley, Northern Cape.

“There’s going to be a lot of engagement. It’s an engagement we must have to release the pent up anger in people. They are a group which fundamentally feels they’ve been left out,” Nkwinti said.

The Kimberley meeting was the first of its kind, and some of those present couldn’t believe it was taking place, Nkwinti said.

Among the proposals from these groups was that the Castle of Good Hope, which for them represented oppression, torture and humiliation, be turned into a “healing centre”.

Nkwinti said that the Natives Land Act had many disastrous socio-economic consequences, “not least the destruction of the fledging class of African farmers, destruction of the environment, and the deliberate impoverishment of black people”.

He said that the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill 2013, which seeks to extend the date for lodging claims for restitution to 18 June 2018, has been approved by Cabinet for public comment. The cut-off date for claims was 31 December 1998.

“As for the 1913 cut-off date for the descendants of the Khoi and the San, and the heritage sites and historic landmarks, we have instituted consultative workshops and work is underway to codify these exceptions,” said Nkwinti.

On land reform, Nkwinti said casual observers had a tendency to be impatient about the rate of progress.

“Be patient, as 360 years of injustice cannot be put completely right in a mere 19 years of democracy. The damage is too deep,” said the minister.

Progress in land redress

Government’s restitution process started in 1995. Since then, 79 696 claims were lodged, of which 77 334 were settled.

The state has also acquired 1 443 million hectares of land. Of the beneficiaries, a total of 137 000 were households headed by females, while 672 people with disabilities also benefited.

A total of R16 billion has been spent on the programme. Land acquisition took R10 billion of this amount, while R6 billion went to financial compensation claims.

Between the 1994 and the end of March 2013, 4 860 farms were transferred to black people and communities through government’s Redistribution Programme.

Overall, almost 250 000 people have benefited from land reform.

Land reform, however, was having some challenges. Among them was the fact that it was difficult to make the transition from being a farm labourer to a farm manager. Government was addressing this.

The department will also invest R240 million on irrigation schemes in different provinces as part of efforts to increase food production.

About R70 million will also be invested in improving roads and bridges in South Africa.

President Zuma arrives in Japan

Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma has arrived in Japan to participate in the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-V) to be held in Yokohama, the Presidency said on Friday.

This will be followed by a working visit on 4 June.

The TICAD is a strategic partnership between Africa and Japan that was launched in 1993, with a view to serve as a consultative forum for development assistance to Africa. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of the TICAD Process and this coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (which is now the AU).

The Presidency said the TICAD-V Summit will be held under the theme, ‘Hand in Hand with a Dynamic Africa’, a theme that symbolises the growing economic stature of Africa in the global economy.

About 40 African Heads of State are said to have confirmed their participation at this TICAD Summit, which takes place every five years.

“South Africa’s participation in the upcoming TICAD meetings is premised on the AU’s strategic objective of ensuring that all global partnerships with Africa should support the African development priorities, while also strengthening Africa’s participation in global affairs as an equal partner.

“At this summit, the African Heads of State and Government, Japan and the TICAD partners will adopt the TICAD-V Declaration, as well as its five-year action plan that will guide the strategic cooperation between Africa and Japan between 2013 and 2017,” said the Presidency.

On 4 June, the visit will turn into an official one focusing on relations between South Africa and Japan.

Petrol price to decrease by 8 cents a litre

Pretoria: Motorists will be pleased to learn that the petrol price is to decrease by 8 cents a litre as of next week.

All grades of petrol will decrease by 8 cents a litre as of next Wednesday 5 June, the Energy Department announced on Friday.

A litre of 95 ULP in Gauteng will now cost R12.39 in Gauteng and R12.02 in the coast.

A litre of Diesel 0.05% Suphur and Diesel 0.005% Sulphur will decrease by 3.980 cents respectively.

Illuminating paraffin wholesale will increase by 1 cent a litre and Illuminating Paraffin (Single Maximum National Retail price) is also set to increase by 1 cent.

The Maximum Retail Price for LPGAS will increase by cents per kilogram.

The department said that the average international product prices of petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin decreased during the period under review.

“The average Rand/US Dollar exchange rate weakened when compared to the previous period. The average Rand/US Dollar exchange rate for the period 26 April 2013 to 30 May 2013 was 9.2987 compared to the 9.1598 during the previous period. The weakening of the Rand against the US Dollar increased the contribution to the Basic Fuels Price on petrol, diesel and illuminating paraffin by 10.52 cents a litre, 10.82 cents a litre and 10.69 cents a litre respectively,” said the department.

Violence in Iraq killed more than 500 people in May: AFP

BAGHDAD: Violence in Iraq has killed more than 500 people in May, AFP figures showed today, as authorities struggled to contain a wave of unrest that has raised fears of new sectarian conflict.

And the UN envoy to Iraq urged the country’s leaders to meet to resolve long-running political crises that have paralysed the government and been linked to its inability to reduce the violence.

As of yesterday, 503 people were killed and 1,273 wounded, making May the deadliest month in at least a year, according to the data, based on reports from security and medical officials.

May is the second month in a row in which more than 400 people have been killed, for a total exceeding 960 people in less than two months.

A wave of attacks, including bombings in Baghdad that mainly targeted Shiite areas, killed 58 people on Monday and wounded 187, officials said.

Grootfontein by-election: Voters’ turn-out slow

GROOTFONTEIN; Voting in the Grootfontein by-election underway here is going at a very slow pace.

Short queues were seen immediately after the polling stations opened at 07h00 on Thursday, but these also faded as the day progressed.

Presiding officers at the different polling stations told Nampa around midday on Thursday that the process is very peaceful, but painstakingly slow.

At the number 303 mobile polling station, only 55 people had voted by 12h00, and at the 301 mobile polling station, only 32 voters had cast their ballots around the same time.

At the Omulunga Community Hall polling station, only 220 registered voters cast their votes, and 247 at the Omulunga Primary School polling station.

Penehas Amadhila, the presiding officer at the Omulunga Community Hall, said they expect more people after 17h00 as most voters had gone to work.

“We expect the number of voters to increase as the day progresses,” said Sharon Mwilima, the election officer in charge at the Omulunga Primary School polling station.

Presiding officers Alvina Uru-khaes of Mobile 303 and Alma Kashipi of Mobile 301 echoed similar sentiments, saying they expect more people after 17h00.

The Grootfontein Constituency, situated in the Otjozondjupa Region, has been without a councillor since the death of Bromeus Matheus in March this year.

Several political parties are contesting this one-day by-election.

They are the Swapo Party, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), All People’s Party (APP), Swanu of Namibia (Swanu), National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) and the DTA of Namibia.

There are 25 polling stations – eight fixed points and 17 mobile polling stations – and about 141 polling officials.

A total of 16 993 registered voters are expected to cast their votes on Thursday.

Results will be announced early on Friday morning.