Agri Eastern Cape has called on the government to fund an independent audit of state-owned land following the release of official findings by the provincial department of rural development and land reform.
According to the audit, the State owns just nine per cent (1 510 553 hectares) of the Eastern Cape, while 67 per cent (11 370 084 hectares) is privately owned and 24 per cent (4 011 063 hectares) unaccounted for.
Agri EC president Ernest Pringle said the findings appeared to be inaccurate, given the fact that the department’s own figures put the former homeland areas at 6 042 406 hectares, or 36 per cent of the province.
“These areas are all state owned, inclusive of the tribal trust areas, because the state is the only trustee.”
To this should be added all land outside the former homeland areas owned by the first, second and third tiers of government, said Pringle.
He said this would include all municipal ground, conservation areas, state forests and properties acquired by the state for land reform, as well as that taken for roads, railways, Eskom installations and the like.
“We are confident that this would bring the total of state-owned land in the province to over 50 per cent.”
Pringle called on government to provide funds for a credible independent audit of all state land in the Eastern Cape, as well as a racial audit of all privately owned land.
“This could be conducted by one of our local academic institutions. Both Rhodes and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have good standing in this regard.”
He said his organisation was “deeply concerned” by what could be construed as an attempt by the government to minimise its own landholdings and thereby evade contributions to land reform.
“The state has repeatedly set fixed targets for land reform but has made no efforts to assess or measure this process. A balanced audit would go a long way towards laying a positive foundation for future developments.”
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Photo: Agri Eastern Cape president Ernest Pringle has called for an independent audit of state-owned land. Photo: Supplied