Historic rental handover

February 28, 2011

"Today I am here to keep the promise to the St Paul, Mkwanazi, Vierkant, Qolombane, Ngujini, Qelane and Gqogqora communities by handing over an amount of R63.6 million of plantation rental money to the land beneficiaries who were affected by the dispossession of their fertile land as a result of the apartheid government's racial discriminatory policies," said President Jacob Zuma at a historic event in Umtata recently.

Historic handover of forest rental

Happy community members representing the Qelana community with their rental cheque.


The high profile event was hosted by the Dept of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and was attended by the Minister Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson as well as President Jacob Zuma, who delivered the keynote address.

The occasion had its origin in a 1998 Cabinet decision to restructure the South African Forestry Company Limited (SAFCOL) and the former Department of Water Affairs and Forestry plantations.

Between 2001 and 2005 government sold 75% of its stake to four forestry companies. As a result of the sale four long term lease agreements were concluded with Singisi Forest Products (E. Cape and southern KZN plantations), MTO (W and Southern Cape), Amathole (E Cape) and Siyaqhubeka (Zululand).

The two lease packages whose rental money were distributed at the event were Singisi Forest Products (a subsidiary of Merensky) and Siyaqhubeka Forests (a subsidiary of Mondi).

The four companies leasing the land from government pay market related rentals. To date a total of R200 million has been collected in rentals, retained by DAFF in interest bearing accounts, to be paid over to community beneficiaries identified by the Dept Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR).

"I would like to request that you look after your plantations by protecting them from devastating fires. All these surrounding plantations are your source of livelihood which take a long time to grow," the president continued.

The President also pledged that the DAFF and DRDLR would continue to work in partnership to "ensure that all land claims affecting plantation forestry are finalised ..."

In his address, Mike Peters, CEO of Forestry South Africa, said that the event was an important milestone marking the delivery of benefits from an early model of land restitution in South Africa.

"Today is a celebration ... Not only are you taking ownership of your land and receiving your lease rental monies, but today we are also welcoming you into the vibrant forestry industry," he said.

Published in February 2011

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