Current and future work
VS’s primary focus for the coming period will be on ensuring that those who were dispossessed through betterment are informed of the amendment to the Restitution Act. Its ability to do this depends largely on the success of its current proposal to Misereor, which is pending.
VS intends to implement a well crafted communication strategy that tells people in former betterment areas about the opportunity lodge restitution claims.
If there is funding for a training programme, this will be rolled out. If not, VS volunteers at District level will explain the process to be followed in submitting a claim and direct claimants to the closest government office with respect to the completion of necessary documentation).
The Vulamasango Singene leadership will continue to engage with the state. Our aim is to influence the course of government action so that betterment claims are prioritised in the processing of claims. We also want to ensure that government makes it easy for people to submit claims. There should be offices in betterment areas.
VS will monitor the process of lodging claims through the period. We will gather data regarding the type of claims that have been lodged, the allocation of state resources (human and financial) towards the settlement of betterment claims, and progress towards finalisation.
VS wants to see resources flow into the Eastern Cape, and it wants these resources to be used for pro-poor, community-led development.
It is important that once claims are submitted, the matter is not left to rest. The settlement of a claim can be a protracted process. There is the possibility of overlapping claims, and contested claims where traditional leaders allege that they are acting on behalf of a community.
VS will assist betterment communities where possible. If there is sufficient funding, VS will train District Committee members with respect to:
- the provisions the Restitution Act as they pertain to restitution awards
- negotiation skills and conflict resolution (a refresher course, building on the training that was implemented in 2011)
- the need for transparency-mechanisms to be included in settlement agreements so that state departments at all levels account to communities, and not other state departments, with respect to procurement flowing from restitution award monies.
It will be necessary to ensure that Restitution Committees are established in all villages that have submitted betterment claims. VS will encourage communities to choose the 50/50 settlement option (ie that 50% of the award is paid to claiming families, and 50% is pooled for development projects).
VS’s mission is to see poverty eradicated in the rural areas of the Eastern Cape. It will use its own democratic structures to influence development initiatives in former betterment areas in favour of the poor and landless by:
- ensuring that its leadership is represented and vocal on the newly-established Land Committees;
- participating in local government planning processes.