According to his office, President Jacob Zuma has signed the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill into law. The legislation re-opens the restitution claims process that was closed at the end of 1998. Claimants have five years from now to lodge land claims.
Newbies in the political arena the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have been very vocal in the “redistribution of land without compensation” debate. This leaves one to question whether the timing of the passing of the bill into law has anything to do with the pressure the EFF have been exerting on the National Assembly.
The number of land claims that were lodged before the 1998 deadline is around 80 000. It is estimated that there are up to five times as many valid claims that can be brought by victims of apartheid-era forced removals. Not enough details about the exact contents of the legislation is known at the moment which raises questions on the issue of transparency with the government.The land redistribution issue is a very contentious one and our public service is not known to be very good with properly implementing legislation and one worries about the vulnerabilities this legislation is prone to.
Earlier this year, during the opening of the KwaZulu-Natal legislature in Pietermaritzburg, King Goodwill Zwelithini said that he together with a group of traditional leaders would launch a combined claim for all the land that was taken from the Zulu nation as soon as the Restitution of Land Amendment Bill passes into law. The King claims that the first land claims which ended in 1998 did not benefit his people. He believes that the previous claims were hijacked by unscrupulous individuals who, because they spoke English – a language natives couldn’t understand. Those people formed fake trusts to control the claimed land on behalf of beneficiaries.
One however hopes that the process will be very transparent and will benefit the right people without violating other’s constitutional rights.
Images from Mail&Guardian & eNCA.