RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA, The land ownership issue remains a contentious one for South Africa, says former President Kgalema Motlanthe says, who is leading a high level panel assessing the effectiveness of key legislations introduced in 1994 after end of the apartheid era.

The panel, which held public hearings in Rustenburg in North West province, on Wednesday, heard from most participants that there is still a large number of people who have not been returned to their ancestral land, while others say that only a section of the community benefit from the riches of their land.

Motlanthe's panel is looking at the focal areas of poverty, unemployment, inequality and equitable distribution of wealth. On its first day in Rustenburg, it heard that some communities in the province had a problem with laws regulating land redistribution and restitution.

The Chairperson of the Land Claims Committee in Wonderkop near Marikana, David Ramohanoe, says laws introduced in 1994 and the following years have failed them in that they favour the authorities rather than communities, making it possible for communities to be closed out of critical decisions about their land as a result.

"Communities did not have time to peruse the agreements, to comment on the agreements. So, everything was actually imposed. So, it shows that the Tribal Vouncilm together with these particular mines, as well as government, they had bilateral meetings behind closed doors, then finalised the deals, then after that imposed to the communities, so that communities can rubber-stamp (the agreements)."

Motlanthe said the panel had heard about the land issues across the country, when conducting similar hearings in the other provinces. "The issue of land claims problems and land use problem, even where the land has been returned back to communities, and how the communities relate to the CPA's and so on, has been raised with us consistently."


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