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Zuma pleased with Kruger National Park job creation

At least 2,200 workers are employed by the game reserve in Mpumalanga.

President Jacob Zuma at the Kruger National Park for the signing of the land claim agreement. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma says he's pleased the Kruger National Park is able to provide jobs in Mpumalanga, with at least 2,200 workers employed by the game reserve.

Yesterday, Zuma spoke to those gathered at a ceremony to financially compensate families displaced during apartheid.

About 318,000 hectares of land was taken from hundreds families at the Kruger National Park by the government in 1930.

Six communities in Mpumalanga have been compensated with R84 million by the Commission of Restitution of Land Rights and the Department Of Environmental Affairs, after they were displaced during apartheid.

He says compensating the families displaced during apartheid is only the beginning, adding that the second phase of the project will stimulate economic activity in their area.

The president says other outstanding claims are still being dealt with.

CONCENTRATION OF LAND OWNERSHIP

Experts estimate about eight million hectares of farmland have been transferred to black owners since the end of apartheid, eight to 10 percent of the land in white hands in 1994 and only a third of the African National Congress (ANC)'s long-running 30 percent target.

The party has said it will speed up the process with a bill going through Parliament allowing the state to expropriate land without the owner's consent.

Several black communities had land claims on the 2-million hectare Kruger Park because they were removed after the Native Land Act of 1913, which consigned South Africa's black majority to 13 percent of the country's territory.

But the government wants to keep the Kruger, a major tourist draw and home to many animal species, intact, so its policy is to compensate those with claims on it through cash instead of allowing them to resettle in the park's boundaries.

Perry Sambo, a 63-year-old school teacher who is one of the claimants being paid, said his parents had been removed from Kruger before he was born.

"It was very difficult. Transport was very scarce and they did not get any assistance in what they wanted to carry. And some of their belongings they had to leave because they could not carry everything. They lost also cattle on the way that were eaten by lions," he told Reuters.

Additional reporting by Reuters.