|South Africa||BISHOP: ZIMBABWE'S LAND CRISIS IS FLAG FOR SOUTH AFRICA|
A South African bishop fears the crisis in Zimbabwe, where white-owned farms have been invaded by people demanding land, could give rise to a similar situation in South Africa, where 80% of land is still controlled or owned by whites.
``There is great expectation of land restitution, and we need to be careful that slowness in settlement does not lead to a situation like Zimbabwe,'' said Bishop Kevin Dowling of Rustenburg, who heads the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference justice and peace department.
According to government statistics, less than 13% of land in South Africa is controlled by black people. The National Land Claims Commission has received more than 63,000 claims so far but, according to National Land Claims Commissioner Wallace Mgoqi, only about 55,000 of these are legitimate. By early April, close to 4,000 claims had been settled, he said. Bishop Dowling said in an April 24 telephone interview from Rustenburg,
``The pace is slow because the government is taking the legal route, looking for willing sellers and offering compensation.''
The bishops' conference said in an April 8 press statement that the farm invasions in Zimbabwe hold a lesson for other countries in the region, particularly South Africa, ``which also has a legacy of unequal and unjust land distribution.''