This is the ninth restitution settlement involving Mondi forestry land. The government and Mondi are excited that the tried and tested prototype settlement framework is working and can be used by other industry players as a benchmark to settle similar forestry land claims. Forestry South Africa is promoting this settlement model as a framework for other members.
Some 258 hectares of Mondi land under forestry will be transferred to the Mkhwanazi community beneficiaries comprising of approximately 50 households who will own the land through their Phalane Trust.
Since the claim was gazetted in 2005, the negotiation process and its settlement were delayed due to state budgetary constraints.
The community will gain ownership of the land and derive a sustainable income from it whilst at the same time progressively developing their own businesses to operate along the forestry value chain. As a paper and pulp company, Mondi's interest is to ensure that the land continues to produce fibre for their mills. The RLCC in turn, has to ensure a successful transfer of land; an equitable price; community satisfaction; and sustainable business outcomes for the community and the industry.
Mondi will provide funding for training, coaching and mentoring. Access to start-up costs for the community companies, vehicles and equipment will also be facilitated. Some of the associated costs will be offset by state planning and development grants which will be provided by the RLCC.
The relevant Industry Education and Training Authority will be approached to partly fund training of Trustees, company directors and employees.
"We are very pleased that a settlement has been reached with the community on terms which achieve empowerment of new owners and ensures a continued fibre supply for our business" said Maurice Makhathini, Mondi South Africa's Head of Land. "The Mondi model and approach has resulted in a constructive agreement which can be used by others in the industry involved in similar land discussions."
Speaking for the Mkhwanazi community, Mr Mbabaleni Zibane said, "We would like to thank Mondi and to assure all involved that we will work with Mondi to further our empowerment so that even beyond the lease period, the land shall forever be as productive as it is today for the benefit of generations to come."
Said Sibusiso Gamede, acting chief Land Claims Commissioner, "We are pleased about this deal and satisfied that the community will benefit. It is deals of this nature that will take the process of land restitution forward and ensure sustainability of production on the land. Mondi has proved to be a partner of choice in these land deals, having already settled nine land claims with as many communities facilitated by the Commission."