South African government accelerates land reforms
Johannesburg, April 23 (IANS) The South African government is speeding up its plan to redistribute land to rightful owners, the official Bua news agency reported Sunday.
"The government has set a target of redistributing 30 percent of commercial farmland to historically disadvantaged communities by 2014, we are moving towards achieving this by speeding up the process through negotiated settlements with the private sectors," Bua reported, citing Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti.
Nkwinti was speaking at a ceremony marking the restoration of over 12,000 hectares of land to a community in the eastern province of Mpumalanga.
He said the government's land reform aims at promoting the sustainable development of the agriculture.
Agriculture plays a major role in the South Africa's economy, and South Africa has a broad and well-developed agriculture.
However, as mining and manufacturing industries expanded at a faster pace, agriculture's share in the GDP declined.
The minister urged the beneficiaries of land redistribution to make full use of the invaluable assets to produce more grain instead of leaving the land idle.
"Getting your ancestral land back is a great milestone, but once the government gives you a piece of land, you must use it productively to fight poverty and unemployment," said the minister.
The community head said they are committed to make the piece of land valuable, including seeking the possibility of turning the land into a tourist attraction destination, reported Xinhua citing the Bua News report.
The minister was satisfied with the progress made in the land redistribution in Mpumalanga.
There are 16 land claims to be finalised in the central province of the Free state, and 600 cases in the southern province of the Eastern Cape, said the minister.
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