Land restitution in South Africa: our achievements and challenges

Land restitution in South Africa: our achievements and challenges

South Africa’s Land Restitution Act: a bold step in healing the wounds of the past

This paper examines the introduction of Restitution Act No 22 of 1994. The main aim of the Act was to provide for the restitution of land rights to persons or communities dispossessed after 19 June 1913 as a result of past racial discriminatory laws or practices. The paper examines the achievements and challenges that still remain.

Achievements:

  • in establishing the Act, the South African Government has taken a step in healing the wounds of the past
  • this has been done in an orderly way under the rule of law
  • by world standards, South Africa has been on the fast lane in implementing restitution, considering the slow pace in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Estonia
  • in 8 years, South Africa have settled more than 36 000 of the 79 000 valid claims

Challenges:

  • contending with impossible claimants, current land owners, disputes, development challenges, administrative bottlenecks, capacity issues, public expectations and the shear size of the task
  • meeting the Presidential directive and that is the intent to resolve all claims by 2005
  • the integrated development path to restitution requires cooperation from more partners
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