South Africa’s government will take over farms that were allocated to black people under a land redistribution programme but are not being productively used, Agriculture Minister Lulu Xingwana said on Wednesday.

“I have … instructed my directors general to, with immediate effect, implement the principle of use it or lose it,” Xingwana told a media briefing.

“Therefore, those who do not use the land must immediately be removed and the land must be given to emerging farmers and cooperatives…,” she said.

After the fall of apartheid in 1994, the African National Congress-led government set itself a target of handing 30 percent of all agricultural land to the black majority by 2014.

Under a restitution programme, land was returned to black communities who claimed it was taken from them before the end of apartheid, but much of the land has not been used for farming and has laid idle for years.

“The restitution programme has reached 95 percent completion. The 5 percent that is outstanding involves claims (on properties owned by) the mines, huge forestry projects and also claims that involve conservation areas,” Xingwana said.



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