Land claims are a complex and sensitive topic in the agricultural sector due to the uncertainty created amongst producers, investors and even the beneficiaries of land claims. The Southern African Agri Initiative, Saai, therefore decided to develop and launch the landclaim.org database platform. The database will assist users to determine the plausibility of a land claim on a property prior to purchasing or selling with the click of a button.
During a media briefing held in Pretoria, Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai, illustrated how the database would work. It is a user-friendly platform that is accessible to the public as it is in the public’s best interest. Rossouw stated that the database is part of a comprehensive long-term plan to encourage transparency in respect of the land claims process. Access to the platform https://bit.ly/landclaim_org is free of charge. The next phase of the platform’s development will also feature. Rossouw said that Saai is open to questions and suggestions regarding the platform.
When a land claim is received, government is supposed to not only investigate the land and the claim, but also share and gazette the research made into the claim. However, this is not happening. This platform is aimed at assisting in getting this process done.
Dr Theo de Jager, executive chairperson of Saai, said that the creation of the database was inspired by the lack of information the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is willing to share on current and past land claims. Saai submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request on 4 May 2021 to the department to provide copies of every gazetted land claim from 1998 to 2021. However, the department didn’t comply with the request. De Jager said the request was made in a bid to obtain certainty regarding land claims, as the department had stated that there are 7 000 unprocessed land claims and that it had settled 69 000 land claims with financial compensation. This is more than the 63 000 land claims the department claims it received previously.
De Jager explained that the concept of land reform originated in 1996, when the new Constitution was published with the aim of assisting persons who were evicted or removed from their land and/or property in terms of the Natives Land Act, 1913. This means land reform isn’t focussed on only the agricultural sector, yet it affects the sector the most. De Jager added that the database platform was created to provide certainty for the industry, as there are still several uncertainties regarding land reform such as the misperception that individuals who received financial compensation for a land claim, will also receive the land. – Phillip Crafford, Plaas Media
For more information, contact Chanté Kelder at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at saai.org.